Why Discounting Is Risky Business (And What You Should Do Instead)

If you want to grow your business sustainably, we’ve got to talk about the elephant in the room: discount messages. 

Discounting is incredibly common. You know this. You probably see discount messaging daily. 

You might even make purchasing decisions based on discounts, like those new running shorts you didn’t really need but bought last Wednesday when your favourite retailer emailed you about a pop-up sale. 

If you’re giving discounts, at first glance, it might seem like a successful business model (especially if you see spikes in sales and revenue.)

Here’s the thing:

While there are some advantages of discounts, marking down your prices also carries significant disadvantages — long-term risks that far outweigh the short-term benefits. Here’s why:

The advantages and disadvantages of discounts

Before you begin blasting out discount messages, carefully consider both the pros and cons of discounting. 

The advantages of discount messages

If you’re thinking about offering discounts, chances are you (1) need increased sales volume or (2) want to attract new customers. 

Discounting will probably achieve these two things and quickly boost your top-line sales

Your target market might be more inclined to purchase if they feel like they’re getting a good deal, and discounts can attract new customers who might not have otherwise considered your product. 

Discounts have other valid benefits, too, like clearing out inventory and incentivising larger purchases. 

But here’s what I want you to remember…

The short-term advantages of discounting typically don’t eclipse the long-term negative consequences. 

Unless you’re…

…I suggest you use discount messages sparingly (if at all.) Let me explain. 

The disadvantages of discount messages

1. Profit evisceration 

Let’s start with the most obvious con to discounts: short-term financial trade-offs. 

If you lower your prices, you reduce your profit margins. Lower them too much, and you might not fully cover the costs of producing or delivering your product or service.

Of course, there are exceptions, like if you’re a SaaS company that can attract new customers without dramatically increasing operating costs. Or if you’ve already invested in developing a product and the price of each additional unit sold is relatively low, you might be able to offer discounts without substantially hurting your profit margins. 

That said, analysing your costs and revenue projections is crucial to ensure offering discounts is a sustainable strategy. This is also why you’ve got to know your numbers. The good news? KPIs for digital marketing don’t have to be as daunting as they sound. 

2. Negative signalling

Regular discounts send a message to your customers that your product or service is not worth its original price — aka, negative signalling. 

Have you heard of the retailer Kohl’s? It’s a popular department store in the U.S. that regularly offers its customers steep promotions and Kohl’s Cash (store credit). 

Due to Kohl's frequent discounts, customers now expect lower prices — and the company is facing financial woes.

If you’ve ever shopped at Kohl’s, you can probably attest that you go there for the sales and promotions. When you do pay full price for something at this department store, you almost feel as though you’ve been duped. 

Here’s the key takeaway:

Once you begin regularly offering discount messages, your customers will come to expect them. And that means they will hold off on making purchases until a deal becomes available — a problematic factor for your bottom line. 

3. Price wars

“The single most important decision in evaluating a business is pricing power. If you’ve got the power to raise prices without losing business to a competitor, you’ve got a very good business. And if you have to have a prayer session before raising the price by 10 percent, then you’ve got a terrible business.” - Warren Buffet.

Once one business offers discounts, others may feel compelled to follow suit to stay competitive. This cycle can result in a never-ending loop of price reductions. Before you know it, you’re in a full-blown price war. 

While customers might love getting a good deal, competing on price alone is a slippery slope that leads to shrinking profit margins and commoditisation of your brand. 

Take it from Warren Buffet: build a brand that can raise its prices without losing customers. 

This leads me to my next point…

4. Brand commoditisation

Finally, offering frequent discount messages can lead to the commoditisation of your brand. 

In other words, when you regularly discount your products or services, customers begin to question the value of your brand; they begin to make purchasing decisions based solely on price, which means they lose their irrational loyalty to your business and choose the competition instead. 

Just look at Tesla’s recent discounting strategy, which has left some analysts questioning the exclusivity and luxury value of the brand. 

Is Tesla at risk of losing its premium pricing power and becoming just another electric car in the automotive market? Time — and likely future discounting decisions — will tell. 

The solution to discount messages

If discount messages aren't the solution to driving sales and revenue… what is the answer?

The key to growing your company is to shift away from focusing solely on short-term gains — to split your efforts between performance marketing and long-term brand building. In doing so, you’ll deliver value to customers while optimising marketing efforts for maximum impact. 

When you hone in on what sets your business apart and create a distinctive value proposition that strongly resonates with your target audience, you establish a clear point of differentiation from competitors and reduce reliance on discounts as a primary sales driver. 

So, build a strong brand. Obsess over your target market and talk to them regularly. Read insights to help you up your marketing game and take targeted action. 

Lastly, when in doubt, hire a growth marketing expert with a proven track record for success before you automatically slash your prices. Your bottom line will thank you.

How To Craft a Winning Case Study: Your Step-by-Step Guide

If you want to increase sales and conversions, you’ve got to learn how to create great case studies…

…case studies that showcase your expertise, highlight your accomplishments, and build trust with prospective customers. Case studies that make your ideal client say, “Yes! Help me solve my problems so that I can achieve those results, too.”

And yet, most case studies fall flat. 

You probably know the ones I’m talking about…

Customer success stories that lack detail and personality. Templated reports that read more like a sales pitch than a helpful, compelling narrative. Case studies that tout incredulous results with little evidence of replicable success. 

It’s hardly any wonder so many case studies don’t generate results!

Let’s change that. 

Below, I’ll walk you through how to create memorable and effective case studies that inspire your customers to take action. 

Why every business needs case studies

Before we dive into the how, let’s quickly review the why:

Simply put, case studies are one of the most powerful tools you have to demonstrate your expertise and credibility. 

Anyone can make theoretical claims online. A case study showcases your proven track record of success — it uses real-world applications to build trust and confidence. 

Perhaps more importantly, a well-crafted case study is your opportunity to show your customers that they are not alone in their struggle — that others have overcome similar pain points and become the heroes of their stories

5 Tips to create better case studies 

Now that you’re ready to create impactful case studies let’s explore five actionable tips to engage your prospect from start to finish. 

1. Understand your target audience

Case studies are not one-size-fits-all. Before you dive into any customer success story, consider (1) who you want to reach and (2) what goal you wish to achieve.

Say you want to attract early-stage startups to use your project management software. You might highlight how your product helped a similar startup streamline systems and reduce admin time by 35%.

When you tailor your case studies to a hyper-specific audience and goal, you create a unique value proposition that resonates deeply with potential customers — you ensure our prospects feel heard, understood, validated, and inspired. 

This might mean you’ll need to create multiple case studies for different demographics within your target market. 

2. Engage your prospect through storytelling

Data alone is just numbers and charts; it doesn’t communicate why the data matters

If you want to convey valuable, big-picture insights that drive integrative action, you must become a storyteller

Storytelling is how humans naturally communicate. Our brains are hardwired to engage with stories! When you weave a narrative around your prospect’s challenges, goals, and success, you create an emotional connection that keeps the reader engaged and drives action. 

Try these storytelling tips in your case studies:

3. Give statistics context (and don’t overlook strategy)

Every great consulting case study will include statistics and data to demonstrate the results you helped your client achieve. However, not all data is created equal.

Realistic statistics and data provide more credibility to your brand than far-fetched, exaggerated claims. You want your prospect to feel confident that they, too, can achieve similar results. Don’t be afraid to use smaller data sets that still showcase significant wins. 

Similarly, your prospect wants to know that these results are replicable for their unique business. 

Explain the method behind the data to demonstrate that the results were not arbitrary or coincidental but a result of a deliberate and well-executed plan.

4. Consider your case study presentation

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to case studies. So, leverage different formats that cater to your target audience. These could include:

No matter the format of your case study, presentation is vital. Visual aids such as graphs, charts, and screenshots illustrate your points and make your content more engaging. Look for case study interview examples to demonstrate social proof.

Descriptive headers guide readers, while a logical structure ensures the information is presented clearly and coherently. 

Don’t underestimate the importance of these elements; they might sound simple, but they create a roadmap for your prospect to achieve similar success. We’ll review a proven template below to help you get started with your case study presentation. 

5. Edit and proofread to avoid simple goofs

Meticulously edit your case study before hitting publish. Spelling and grammar errors detract from your work’s overall quality and professionalism, and avoidable mistakes could deter your dream clients. 

So, take the time to review your work carefully. Tighten up wordy sentences. Verify spellings, data, and names. Make any necessary changes to enhance the clarity, impact, and effectiveness of your content.

Get started with this proven case study template

If creating a case study feels overwhelming, begin with this simple yet effective case analysis example. Keep in mind this template is just a starting point. Personalise it to your target audience and tailor the story to connect with your readers!

1. Hook: Begin with an attention-grabbing opening summarising the main problem or challenge your client faced.

2. Introduction: Provide context about your client, their industry, challenges, and goals. 

3. Solution: How did your product or service help your client overcome their challenges?

4. Results: Share the quantifiable results your client achieved from your product or service. Use relevant, realistic data to support your claims. 

5. Conclusion: Summarise the key takeaways from the case study.

6. Call to action: Provide the prospect with an obvious next step of action

7. Visuals and quotes: Weave visuals like graphs, charts, screenshots, and quotes throughout the case study. This is the stage where you can give your case study a human touch and bring it to life.

Remember, a successful case study is more than just a collection of data and analytics reports. 

So, communicate the story behind the numbers and demonstrate the broader implications of the results. Your prospect will feel understood — and you’ll supercharge your growth as a result.

How to Use Marketing Partnerships to Accelerate Your Growth: 5 Fundamental Tips

Forming marketing partnerships with like-minded, non-competing businesses can be an intelligent way to quickly and cost-effectively kickstart your go-to-market strategy — so long as you follow these five tips. 

Launching a product without a solid go-to-market strategy is like trying to find your soulmate by blindly swiping on dating apps with no set criteria.

You might get lucky and stumble upon a potential partner immediately, but you’re more likely to waste years having forced small talk over costly cocktails with people who are very much not your ideal match.

Similarly, launch your product without demonstrating product-market fit, and you risk wasting valuable time, energy, and resources courting all the wrong people. 

But how do you quickly and effectively test your target market to find your perfect match early-on... while still generating revenue? 

Digital marketing partnerships. 

Let me explain. 

The benefits of marketing partnerships in a go-to-market strategy

You already know that people buy from businesses they know, like, and trust

The only problem? 

If you’re launching a go-to-market strategy, you might not have built trusted relationships with your target market yet. 

Even if you do have a pool of prospects ready to buy from you, chances are there is a new market that aligns with your go-to-market strategy — one that you have not yet tapped into.

When you team up with the right digital marketing partner, you leverage that business’s established market. Suddenly, you have immediate access to a loyal customer base and relationships that could take your brand years to develop. 

To put it another way...

The right partnership strategy is a powerful shortcut to target market access, product-market fit, and immediate sales. But there are other benefits to marketing partnerships, too. Advantages like:

Of course, the secret to successful channel marketing lies in selecting the right partners. These five tips will help you establish mutually beneficial marketing partnerships so that you can get started in a quick, cost-effective, and successful way:

5 Tips to forming successful marketing partnerships

1. Choose partners that align with goals, vision, and target market

Before you dive into partner selection, clarify your goals and vision for your overarching brand and each marketing partnership. Skip this step, and you risk crafting inconsistent messaging that confuses customers and dilutes the impact of your campaign. 

You might start with these questions:

  1. What are our values and company culture? How do they align with those of our strategic partners?
  2. What is our brand messaging, and how do we communicate it to our customers?
  3. Who is the target market that we want to reach?

Communicate your goals and vision with potential partners to guarantee alignment. You’ll also want to select digital marketing partners that offer non-competing yet complimentary services. 

Say you’re a SaaS company that specialises in project management tools for small businesses. A partnership with a marketing agency focusing on small business growth could be an intelligent collaboration: you share a target market and have like-minded goals (small-business success) without offering rival products. 

2. Know what you bring to the table

If you want to attract good marketing partners, you must know and — this is important — communicate the value you offer. Simple as that. 

If a relationship is not symbiotic, it won’t last long. Worse, you risk damaging your brand’s reputation, wasting time and resources, and missing out on otherwise profitable opportunities. 

So, get clear on your unique strengths, then use them to attract the right businesses and build long-lasting, mutually beneficial partnerships. 

Wondering what you bring to the table if you don’t yet have a large, established customer base? Here are just a few ideas:

3. Clearly define expectations and KPIs

I’ve said it before: If you want better results in your business, you’ve got to know and track your marketing KPIs.

Many businesses overcomplicate this step. 

You don’t have to go down a rabbit hole of metrics, but do define your goals and outline how you will measure the value of your marketing partnerships. Get specific, and communicate these expectations and KPIs to all parties involved.

When you’re crystal-clear on what success looks like, you’ll align your efforts and amplify your impact — which means successful, long-term channel partner marketing.

4. Put your customer’s needs at the forefront of your marketing partnerships

Every collaboration should start by asking: How does this partnership strategy enhance the customer experience?

To answer this question, you must understand your customers’ needs and pain points. Don’t skip this step. 

Imagine you’re marketing a fitness app that helps users shed 2% of their body fat in the first 30 days on the platform. Your research reveals that many users find it challenging to make healthy eating choices. 

What’s an obvious partner selection? Perhaps a whole-food meal delivery service that provides users with quick, healthy dinners. By offering a convenient solution to users' dietary struggles, you enhance your customer’s overall experience and drive mutual success for all parties involved.

Ensure the partnership’s value proposition is communicated clearly and convincingly to customers, ideally from the get-go.

5. Establish open and regular communication

Successful marketing partnerships don’t happen by accident. Open and ongoing communication is crucial to avoid misunderstandings and misaligned efforts.

Establish a communication plan from the get-go. Share insights and ideas. You’ll have a better chance of hitting your benchmarks and achieving sustainable growth when both parties are connecting. 

If you want to accelerate growth through marketing partnerships, you’ve got to do your research…

…to understand your target market's unique needs, identify non-competing players, and communicate your KPIs. It might take time to build a solid foundation, but it will allow you to leverage the right audiences (the right way) so you can catapult your success.

Why Domain Authority Is Critical to Your SEO Success (and How to Improve It)

You might be familiar with the basic tenets of SEO: create valuable content, conduct keyword research, optimise meta descriptions, and so on.

Today, I want to talk about another critical driver that informs your SEO success — a metric that evaluates the strength and authority of your website yet is often overlooked: Domain Authority (DA). 

Improve your Domain Authority, and you’ll improve your search rankings, increase organic traffic, and establish greater trust within your industry. Sound enticing? Good. Here’s what you need to know:

What is Domain Authority? 

Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz to predict how a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs) within a competitive landscape. 

Your DA will range from 1 to 100, with higher numbers indicating a greater likelihood of ranking well. Moz determines the score based on a variety of factors, some of which include:

It’s important to note that a higher DA doesn’t influence SEO directly. However, DA is an excellent comparative metric to better understand SEO applications, including (1) your website in relation to your competitors’ sites and (2) your ability to rank for competitive search terms.

What’s the difference between domain authority vs page authority (PA)? 

DA measures the overall strength and authority of a website, while PA focuses on the authority and strength of a specific page on that website. Both metrics are important for improving your website's search engine rankings and visibility and can be used to develop effective SEO strategies.

How to improve your Domain Authority

As mentioned, Moz calculates Domain Authority based on how a website compares to others. So, even if you improve your website’s link profile, you might not see DA improvements if every other website improves its health and backlinks, too. 

Moz explains it using the example of air quality. Here’s the gist:

Let’s say Singapore ranked #1 for having the best air quality in 2020. In 2021, they improved their air quality even more. Does this mean they will remain at the top of the list? Not necessarily… 

What if other countries like Denmark also improved their air quality, or if New Zealand, which was not ranked in 2020, joined the rating system in 2021 with very high air quality?

Can you see the conundrum?

Because these air quality rankings are based on a scale, if the scale changes, so can a country’s order, regardless of their efforts. The same idea applies to Domain Authority. 

All that said…

Generally speaking, if you improve the number of high-quality backlinks pointed to your website, you’ll improve your SERPs, too. That’s because white-hat link building is a reliable signal to search engines that you are a trustworthy website with exceptional content — all very good things.

Now I’m going to show you how to improve your backlink portfolio — even if you don’t have an entire content marketing team to support your efforts. 

Build quality backlinks with these four simple tips:

These four techniques will help you build quality backlinks so you can positively influence your Domain Authority and SEO. 

Note: Before embarking on any link-building efforts, you must identify and understand your target audience: their needs, interests, and pain points. Nail this step, and you’ll increase the likelihood of readers sharing and linking to your content.  

1. Create high-quality content

Content marketing is the backbone of any successful SEO strategy. To build links, you must create high-quality content to which other websites want to link. Simple as that. 

Link-building benefits are just one aspect of a robust content marketing strategy. 

Provide insanely valuable and relevant content to your target audience, and you’ll become a thought leader in your field — you’ll build a personal brand that accelerates sales growth and stands the test of digital transformation

Here’s what I want you to remember: 

Digital content creation isn’t going anywhere

If you want to cut through the clutter and connect with your prospects to create lifeline champions of your brand (and improve your DA in the process), you must get in the content game. 

2. Write guest articles

Make a list of relevant websites and online communities within your niche where you can build backlinks and promote your content effectively. Consider brand collaborations, interviews, and podcasts, too. 

Then, conduct quality blogger outreach and build connections. Be genuine. Once you’ve established a relationship, ask to contribute a guest article. 

Writing quality guest posts allows you to reach a new audience, increase brand awareness, and generate high-quality backlinks. Just ensure you craft well-written articles. This is your opportunity to expand your network — no one wants drivel on their site. 

3. Fix broken links

Broken links are a hassle, but fixing them requires time and effort that most business owners don’t have. This is where you come in…

Find broken links on other websites within your niche, then offer to replace these links with your own high-quality content. 

The other website no longer has a broken link to an outdated resource that doesn’t work, and you get a great backlink to your site. It’s a clear win-win. 

Not everyone will respond positively to your broken backlink campaign, and that’s okay. Focus on creating linkable assets that answer questions and personalise your outreach. This guide will help. 

Note: When in doubt, outsource link building and get back to what you do best: running your business.

4. Use social media

Content marketing doesn’t stop the moment you hit ‘publish.’ A winning DA-building strategy includes a clear distribution plan. So, give your content a boost. Share it on social platforms where your audience already spends time.

Consider your Facebook groups marketing, too. (Remember, if you want to build your business, you’ve got to build a community around your brand. Facebook group is one potent way to do precisely that.) 

Don’t spam your followers with promotional junk. Do share relevant, valuable content that guides your customer on their buyer’s journey.

Here’s the thing:

Improving your Domain Authority is not an exact science. That said, if you follow the tips outlined in this article, you’ll build your backlinks and likely impact your SEO, too. 

More importantly, you’ll position yourself as an expert while crafting meaningful and relevant content for your audience — and those are benefits that far outweigh any ranking number.

What Every Business Can Learn From the Simple Yet Effective Amazon Six Pager

Not quite sure how to improve the efficacy of your meetings, influence your board, and get buy-in for your visions? Take a page (or, in this case, six pages) from Jeff Bezos and implement the company’s world-famous memo structure: the Amazon 6-Pager. 

There’s an iconic quote from author and columnist Dave Barry:

If I had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.

I think we’ve all experienced those tedious meetings of which Barry writes — the ones that burn through our time and do little to impact our bottom line. 

And yet, whether you love or hate them, executive meetings remain a non-negotiable part of growing a successful business and getting buy-in when you need it most.

So, if we can’t avoid meetings, why not make them as efficient and impactful as possible?

That was the idea behind the influential 2004 email Jeff Bezos sent his senior team in which he explained the company would swap PowerPoint presentations for detailed, six-page narrative memos — aka, The Amazon 6-Pager. 


You don’t have to be a billion-dollar company to incorporate the Amazon six-pager into your meeting structure. 

I believe this business case example offers compelling advantages to any organisation ready to streamline growth, influence stakeholders, and minimise time spent in bloated, humdrum meetings. Let’s take a closer look. 

What is the Amazon 6-Pager

Most CEOs meet regularly with their executive teams to discuss projects, evaluate marketing OKRs, and brainstorm marketing strategies. That’s great, but how does your team present this critical information in meetings? 

For many organisations, each executive creates a PowerPoint presentation and runs through a slide deck sparsely filled with generic information. The presenter gets through their slides as quickly as possible — and often glosses over key information required to build alignment around project decisions.

The Amazon six-pager is Bezos’ response to the limitations of PowerPoint. It’s a narrative memo that swaps cookie-cutter slides for detailed and focused project descriptions and analysis. 

At the start of a meeting, each executive reads the six-page memo in silence. Then, everyone discusses the project, and the best ideas move forward for testing and iteration.

The benefits of the Amazon Six-Pager

Want to quickly identify gaps in your logic or inconsistencies in your thinking? 

Start writing

Writing requires specificity — it forces you to think in-depth about the subject matter and, as a result, reveals logical disparities. 

Don’t believe me? Write a 1000-word article (like this one) on any topic or project. You’ll learn to think about the subject deeply and differently and likely come to understand it better, too.

The biggest benefit of presenting project ideas in a narrative structure is that it promotes critical thinking and clarity. But there are other benefits to the Amazon Six-Pager, too:

Bolsters engagement and collaboration

Slide decks often get delegated to junior team members since they lack specificity and profound analysis of the subject matter. But a six-page narrative memo is dense

So, many teams tackle the Amazon 6-pager together, delegating different sections to individual team members but collaborating as a group.

Upon presentation, the 6-pager invites team members to ask questions, provide feedback, and participate in decision-making. This makes the narrative memo a more interactive and engaging communication tool than traditional PowerPoints, which often serve as one-way monologues.

Aligns teams and stakeholders

The Amazon 6-Pager aligns teams and stakeholders by providing a common understanding of the project’s objectives, scope and deliverables. This creates a shared vision that leads to better outcomes and greater success. 

In other words, with a narrative memo, everyone on the team gets the in-depth data they need to drive meaningful, results-oriented analysis. 

Adapts to a wide array of situations

Here’s what I love most about the Amazon 6-Pager:

You can change and adapt the memo so that it works for your unique needs. Have a product launch approaching? Need to make operational improvements? Want to analyse a sales strategy or conduct a performance review?

The Amazon 6-pager is highly adaptable to any scenario where you need to convey complex information thoroughly yet efficiently. 

The anatomy of an Amazon Six-Pager

Let’s explore the most common components of a six-page narrative memo (according to someone who worked for Amazon.) 

You don’t need to follow this outline to the letter; however, I’ve found it a helpful jumping-off point for most clients and projects. 

1. Introduction: Introduce the project clearly and succinctly so that executive team members immediately understand the directive of the 6-pager.

2. Goals: Clearly state the project initiative; note critical metrics like revenue targets, cost savings, or customer satisfaction goals.

3. Tenets: Outline the fundamental principles, values, or beliefs that guide the decision-making and execution of the project.

4. State of the business: Provide an in-depth overview of the company’s current state. This may include a SWOT analysis, highlighting strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

5. Lessons learned: Use data to reflect on lessons learned from previous projects or initiatives; identify successes and failures, and outline what was learned from each. 

6. Strategic priorities: This is the bulk of any six-pager. Use this section to explain how you plan to execute the project, making it crystal clear how these actions will achieve the goals outlined in Step 2. 

You’ll notice most Amazon Six-Pagers don’t utilise a summary or conclusion. This is fluff. You’ve already explained all necessary points succinctly and compellingly — an additional overview is unnecessary. 

As you can see, the power of an effective six-pager lies in the details and data. When you thoroughly outline and support your ideas throughout a six-page narrative memo, you quickly identify where there are gaps in your message. More importantly, you learn to fill those gaps with data-driven information. 

At first glance, the Amazon Six-Pager can seem overwhelming and complicated. However, I believe the information gleaned from this business case marketing is well worth the effort. 

Embrace the narrative memo, and you’ll learn to communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely to get important buy-in on your projects. Plus, you’ll better analyse the steps required to propel your business forward, so you can scale what works — and quickly ditch what doesn’t. 

Are Retail Media Networks the Future of Digital Advertising?

Have you heard the buzz about Retail Media Networks (RMNs)? 

The fastest-growing ad-supported digital marketing channel, RMNs are poised to play a significant role in the future of digital advertising. Consider these staggering stats:

I believe these numbers are worth paying attention to. I also believe Retail Media will only become increasingly relevant to marketers as this exciting advertising channel continues to grow and evolve. 

And yet…

That’s not to say every e-commerce or D2C business should add retail media to its marketing mix (at least not yet.)

In this article, we’ll look closer at Retail Media Networks and their potential benefits to advertisers. Then, we’ll review my two-fold approach for determining whether or not RMNs make sense for your marketing strategy. Let’s begin.

What is a Retail Media Network?

Retail Media Networks (RMNs) are retail-owned advertising services that use AdTech tools to allow brands to purchase advertising across digital assets owned by the retail business. 

Brands have long known that in-store shelf space placement affects purchasing decisions. Now, we are seeing this insight extend to online brand placement, too. 

What’s the first name to come to mind when you think of Retail Media? 

If you said Amazon, you have a good reason. The eCommerce behemoth accounts for 89% of U.S. retail ads, and Amazon Marketing Cloud now generates more ad revenue than Prime, Kindle and Audible subscriptions combined. (Improvado)

Of course, Amazon isn’t the only big player in Retail Media. Other well-known contenders include Walmart, Home Depot, Wayfair, and Target.

But why is Retail Media so alluring to advertisers right now?

Simply put, the importance of RMNs lie in their ability to bring together two major players in the e-commerce space: retailers and brands. 

By leveraging retailers' vast amount of first-party data on their customers, RMNs allow brands to target their ads to particular audiences based on purchase history, browsing behaviour, query intent, and more.

The benefit to the RMN is obvious: Retail is a notoriously low-margin industry. Monetising an eCommerce audience with ads is a highly-profitable revenue stream, and online RMNs are driving 70 - 90% margins

As you’ll see, the benefits of Retail Digital Media to brands are also quite compelling. 

Why brands should pay attention to Retail Media Networks

It’s hardly any secret that privacy policy updates have dramatically impacted personalisation and targeting capabilities on paid search and social

While these channels still play a pivotal role in any digital marketing flywheel, privacy regulation and increased ad costs have made it so that brands must get creative with how to reach their target customers with the right messaging at the right time.

Retail Media is a little different…

RMNs provide a more accurate and holistic understanding of customer intent thanks to first-party data and exact marketplace queries. Advertisers can better target and personalise ads to the target customer’s unique buyer’s journey — and they can do it throughout the entire sales funnel. 

In other words, Retail Media allows brands to reach consumers most likely to be interested in their products with more personalised messaging — resulting in higher conversion rates and more effective tracking and analytics. 

I like what Nikhil Lai, Senior Analyst, Performance Marketing at Forrester, has to say about it for Forbes:

Advertisers' use of RMNs encompasses the entire purchase funnel from awareness to point of purchase, and retail media holds the entire funnel accountable for delivering a verifiable revenue impact. In addition, the results of retail media campaigns can inform brands’ pricing, product, packaging, and distribution strategies.”

It’s also worth noting that Retail Media gives brands access to a captive audience of shoppers already in a purchasing mindset. (Rather than when users are scrolling Instagram for a distracting cake baking video or checking Facebook for family updates.) 

By placing ads directly in front of consumers at the point of sale, brands can increase their visibility and drive sales. 

Now… before you add Retail Media to your marketing mix, there are two questions to ask first. 

Ask these 2 questions before you invest in Retail Media Networks

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and distracted by digital marketing trends. However, there is a simple two-question test to determine whether or not your organisation should test Retail Media. 

Pro tip: You can use these two questions to analyse the viability of other digital channels, too. 

1. Is your target audience on this platform? 

It sounds simple. And yet, so many businesses get dazzled by new trends and forget to ask, Is my target audience actually shopping on these platforms? 

If you have yet to craft buyer personas, start here. Remember, we don’t want fictional bios based on assumptions and generalisations, but data-backed, researched-based profiles of your target customer. 

2. Is the cost to advertise on Retail Media lower than your other media buys?

If you want to streamline your business growth, you’ve got to know your numbers. So, what do your numbers say about Retail Media compared to other paid media? 

Don’t just look at the price to advertise, but also your ROI in digital marketing. In other words, how much revenue do you earn for every dollar spent on marketing? 

If (1) your target audience is on Retail Media and (2) you can reach them for less than other media buys, then the answer is simple: Give RMNs a test run. Apply growth marketing principles: start small, ditch what doesn’t work, and scale what does. 

As retailers continue to invest in data analytics and customer insights, the potential of Retail Media Networks for more precise targeting and measurement capabilities is a compelling and attractive notion. 

However, before you abruptly shift your marketing strategy, use the two simple questions outlined in this article to address the viability of RMNs for your business. Your bottom line will thank you.

How to Use Emotional Messaging to Drive Sales and Build Brand Loyalty

If you want your marketing to work, you must speak to your customer’s logical and emotional needs; you must balance facts and features with compelling emotional messaging. 

Most businesses have an easier time acknowledging their audience’s logical needs. This makes sense. You understand your product better than anyone else — all the ways in which it is better, faster, more complex and more complete. 

There’s just one problem: 

According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, up to 95 per cent of purchasing decisions are subconscious urges, the biggest of which is emotion.

Sure, we might use logic to narrow down our purchasing options or justify a buying decision, but it’s our emotional brain that spends most time behind the wheel on our buyer’s journey.

Emotional messaging in marketing

The best marketers realise human beings are not as rational as we think we are, and they use emotional storytelling to connect with and ethically influence their customers. 

Consider a few of your favourite brands. Be honest: Why do you purchase from these companies? 

For example, you probably don’t buy the latest iPhone just for the tech upgrades. You purchase from Apple because of what the brand says about you — because you value innovation, design, and creativity. 

Here’s another common example:

Let’s say you’re in the market for a new vehicle. Maybe your family is growing, and you want the safety and peace of mind that your kids are protected. Perhaps your next-door neighbours, Jim and Sally, upgraded their SUV, and now you want a sleeker, more sophisticated ride, too. Or maybe you simply want to switch to an electric vehicle for the environmental benefits.

In all of these scenarios, there is an emotional attachment to buying a new car: security, status, and sustainability. 

Yes, you’ll use fact-based decision-making along the way, too. But it’s the combination of functional and emotional benefits that will convince you to pay more and buy now. 

We need not only look at our personal purchasing decisions to understand why emotional messaging matters. The data supports emotional storytelling, too. 

Here are three compelling cases from the Harvard Business Review, each of which used a targeted emotional messaging campaign to drive sales:

4 Steps to improve your emotional messaging

We’ve covered the why of emotional messaging. Now, I’d like to talk about the how. 

1. Understand your target audience

Do you understand your buyer’s deepest needs, desires, and pain points? 

You want your target buyer to read your marketing or interact with your brand and think, “Wow, this company really gets me — it’s like they’re speaking directly to me.” 

Take the time to intimately understand your target audience, and you’ll craft emotional messaging that resonates — marketing that drives sales because it feels effortless. Skip this step, and you risk crafting stories that miss the mark and, worse, feel incongruous with your customer’s needs.  

A lot of brands get their buyer persona’s wrong because they (a) create fictionalised biographies based on who they want their target audience to be and (b) because they focus too heavily on demographic information. Don’t be like these brands. 

Instead, use research to craft your customer profiles and include detailed descriptions of what drives your customer: what motivates them, what makes their lives easier, and what keeps them awake at night. 

2. Build your brand 

Your brand isn’t just about your logo or colour palette. It’s also about building emotional connections with your customers — about understanding your brand from your customer’s point of view. 

In other words, why does your customer choose your product? What does their purchasing decision say about their personality or values? 

Take my friend Barbara, a hard-working mother of three. Barbara does all her shopping at her neighbourhood discount grocer. These purchases are logical. She knows she’ll save money by doing her shopping there. 

But here’s what even Barbara doesn’t realise…

My friend also chooses to shop at the discount grocer because of what it says about her as a mom: that she puts her family first and forgoes trendy, brand-named items for quality purchases that will nourish her family without wasting their hard-earned money. 

What is your brand story, and how does this story build an emotional connection with your customer? 

If you recognise gaps in your branding, read Branding Is Sex by Deb Gabor. It’s a fantastic jumping-off point for any organisation ready to use emotional messaging to build a customer-centric brand. 

3. Tell stories

Narration is as much a part of human nature as breath and the circulation of the blood.” - A.S. Byatt.

Humans are addicted to stories. Storytelling is how we’ve communicated throughout the ages, and stories continue to be one of the most influential tools at our disposal today. 

People will forget the facts you tell them, but they will remember stories that make them feel something. 

The Story Factor identifies six stories you need to know how to tell:

  1. Who I Am
  2. Why I Am Here
  3. The Vision
  4. Teaching
  5. Values in Action
  6. I Know What You Are Thinking

Tell these stories in your marketing. You’ll build connections and transform one-off customers into raving, loyal fans. 

4. Use the logic sandwich

When in doubt, use the logic sandwich, a concept by Bryony Thomas

Here’s the gist: 

Begin with emotional messaging to build momentum and establish a connection with your customer. As the buyer moves to the stages of trial and adoption, switch to logic. Provide concrete information your buyer needs to make their decision. Then, return to emotional messaging to build customer adaptation and loyalty. 

The logic sandwich is a clever way to incorporate emotion and logic into your marketing mix and ensure you’re meeting the right customer needs at the right time. 

Note: Short-term sales activations are another excellent moment to use fact-based decision-making to influence purchasing decisions. 

Take an analytical look at your marketing. Are you appealing to your target customer’s emotional brain or leaning too heavily on feature-driven marketing? 

Emotional messaging is not an exact science. So, get to know your customer. Tweak your marketing. Tell stories. You’ll begin to craft more potent messaging that speaks directly to your customer’s needs — and drives sales and brand loyalty accordingly.

Want To Become an Exceptional Marketer? Learn These 8 Digital Marketing Soft Skills

You know you need an array of technical skills to advance your marketing career, but have you given the same attention to cultivating your digital marketing soft skills? 

Soft skills are your power skills — they influence how you interact with others and impact the efficacy of your marketing. 

As your career progresses, your marketing soft skills become increasingly important. That’s because, as digital transformation disrupts entire industries, the technical hard skills you need to succeed will continue to evolve. 

But your soft skills? Those are timeless and transferable. 

Now, digital marketing soft skills are notoriously difficult to teach because they are not an exact science — they require awareness, patience, and practice to cultivate. And yet, master these skills, and you will become a better marketer. 

With that in mind, I’d like to review eight soft skills crucial for success in today’s digital marketing landscape. Carve out time to practise these skills daily and you will become a more exceptional marketer.

8 digital marketing soft skills for a wildly successful career

“Soft skills get little respect but will make or break your career” Peggy Klaus

1. Influence

Influence is your ability to persuade others to think or act a certain way. Influence extends past giving commands. Truly influential leaders inspire and encourage their teams to rally together — they ethically use the principles of persuasion to achieve aligned goals. 

If you want to understand the psychology of persuasion, begin with Robert B. Cialdini’s famous book Influence. The most recent expanded edition includes new insights for digital businesses, and it’s a game changer for anyone who wants to uplevel their influencing skills. 

2. Simplifying complexity

You will face complicated and confusing problems as your marketing career progresses. Sometimes, your hard skills will help you solve these puzzling scenarios, but often, they won’t. 

Learning how to solve complex problems requires changing the way you think. 

It means halting repetitive thought loops so you can approach marketing dilemmas from a unique viewpoint. 

It means asking the right questions to arrive at the right answers. 

And it means embracing humility as you work alongside your team so that you solve complex problems effectively and efficiently. 

3. Pitching

No matter your business role, sometimes, you’re going to have to ask for what you want: more marketing spend, new acquisition channels, investor pitches, and more. 

So, if you want to be more successful in business, learn how to pitch your ideas with confidence and finesse. 

Consider that the best marketing pitches are custom-crafted for their audience. They use data to tell a story and hook their listeners from start to finish.

4. Adaptability

Can you easily adjust to new conditions? You don’t have a choice in digital marketing: adaptability is crucial to brand longevity. 

Consider companies like Uber and Airbnb. Businesses that embraced new technologies and, as a result, totally rocked the transportation and hotel industries. 

Now think of those brands that didn’t learn to adapt quickly. Blockbuster and Blackberry are two that immediately come to mind. 

Embracing digital transformation isn’t just about leveraging the hard skills to use new technologies. The best digital marketers have an agile mindset and know when and how to adapt for efficient results. 

5. Creativity

Creativity is often defined as thinking up new ideas or applying unique perspectives. I prefer the way Albert Einstein described it:

Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else ever thought

Every entrepreneur and marketer I know wants to become more creative. While it might seem like an elusive digital marketing soft skill at first glance, here are a few specific steps you can take to cultivate creativity today:

6. Resilience

Expert digital marketers are resilient. They are not intimidated by failure because they recognise that failure is simply information that will guide them on their path to success. 

And because resilient marketers realise failure is a learning tool, they retain a future-oriented outlook. They persist through setbacks — even when those setbacks are frustrating and overwhelming and stressful. 

As technology continues to create a paradigm shift in marketing, cultivating resilience in digital marketing will help you weather any storm.

7. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is your ability to manage emotions and relate to others effectively and empathetically. Some experts claim EQ could be more important than IQ; regardless, it is a soft skill that pays big rewards both in and outside the workplace. 

Do you actively listen to your employees and team members? Can you accept when you make a mistake — and let go of the mistakes of others? Do you respond with care (rather than react impulsively) in stressful situations? 

These are just a few questions that can help you cultivate your EQ. You can learn more about how to improve your EQ here.

8. Communication

Culminating our list of digital marketing soft skills is perhaps one of the most important: communication. 

Strategic communication is your bridge to career success and includes much more than daily correspondence or basic small talk. 

Master communicators practise engaged listening to build trust and relationships. They observe body language and unspoken cues to understand personalities and situations better. And they respond to constructive criticism with an open mind. 

If you want to build better teams, improve your customer service, and advance your marketing career, then improving your communication skills is non-negotiable. Here’s how:

Read: How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. A timeless classic (and one of the bestselling books of all time), it makes a sensible place to begin your communication education. 

Listen: The Communication Guys Podcast. The hosts say it best: “Your ultimate level of success depends on your ability to express yourself in a creative, confident, and compelling way.” Learn how to do precisely that in this thought-provoking podcast. 

Watch: How to speak so that people want to listen, a TED talk by Julian Treasure. Treasure is a communication expert, award-winning author, and five-time TED speaker. In this short clip, he reveals powerful tips to speak and listen effectively. 

If you want to advance your career, don’t neglect your digital marketing soft skills. Even just a few minutes a day can make you a better leader — which means better results for you and your organisation.

Types of Web Traffic 101: A Beginner’s Guide To Growing Online

If you want to grow your business online (and, increasingly, offline), you have to drive different types of traffic to your website or landing page

You have to compel that web traffic to take action — download a lead magnet, click a button, maybe make a purchase. 

And you have to continue to nurture that web traffic until leads convert into repeat customers and high-value sales. 

So, it’s sensible that one of the first things business owners do when launching their online business is rush to get eyeballs on their websites. The only problem?

Growing your web traffic can be a frustrating and arduous process. You’ve got confusing search algorithms. Time-consuming content creation. Social media accounts that demand high-quality video content and paid media campaigns that require costly investments. 

The good news is that you don’t need to drive every type of traffic to your website all at once. 

So, how do you get more targeted eyeballs on your website to grow online?

The 5 types of web traffic (and how to build each one)

There are five major types of web traffic. Let’s explore how to build each one effectively. 

1. Direct web traffic 

Think about an (online) brand that you adore. What do you do when you want to purchase or learn about their new offerings? If you’re like me, you type their URL in your browser and navigate straight to their website. 

This is direct web traffic. And, as the name suggests, it includes any time a visitor lands directly on your website instead of clicking through from another source or site. 

As you build your brand and customer loyalty, you’ll naturally grow your direct web traffic. 

Your word-of-mouth marketing and offline campaigns also impact your direct traffic. If you invest in analogue marketing or word-of-mouth referrals, these prospects will likely navigate directly to your website. 

How to grow direct web traffic:

2. Organic search traffic

Searching for a new recipe. Finding a dentist near you. Looking up the answers to last night’s trivia questions. Can you count the times you hop on Google daily to get the information you need? I sure can’t.

Whenever someone navigates to your website from Google (or any other search engine), you get organic search traffic to your site.

What’s the difference between organic search and direct when it comes to types of web traffic? Organic search is traffic from search engines, while direct traffic occurs when people go straight to your URL. 

Organic traffic is highly valuable to your business because it means you’re showing up where people are already searching for your product or offer. Improve your ranking and visibility, and you’ll connect to more prospects.

Or, as Brian Clark from Copyblogger says, “If you’re not showing up during the prospect’s self-determined buying journey, you’re not in the game.”

How to get in the game with organic search traffic:

3. Referral traffic

Next up on types of web traffic is referral. You get referral traffic whenever someone clicks on a link that takes them to your website.

For example, if you publish a guest article on a third-party source with a link to your website, any clicks on this link would count as referral traffic. Email marketing is another common source of referral traffic. Anytime you send an email with a link to your website, you’re referring traffic to your domain. 

Referral traffic from trusted sources is an excellent way to drive qualified leads to your site — prospects who will be more willing to buy from you because they already have confidence in the referee. 

How to improve referral web traffic:

4. Organic social traffic

When I talk about organic social web traffic, I mean any traffic that comes to your website from social media (not including paid social.)

I’ve said it before: If you want to build your business, build a community around your brand. In other words, don’t sleep on social media when it comes to organic traffic sources. 

I’m not talking about silly social trends or TikTok dances. These fads will come and go. Find out where your target audience is engaging on social media and create valuable, interesting content that resonates with them. 

You’ll create a community that goes beyond selling — one that provides value and connection to your customers — and send high-value, top-of-the-funnel leads to your website. 

How to improve organic social web traffic:

5. Paid traffic 

Until now, we’ve focused on organic types of web traffic.

Now, creating compelling cross-platform content on your website, social media platforms, and third-party sites certainly works.

But it takes time to see results. 

What do you do when you need traffic and customers now

You invest in paid web traffic. 

Paid traffic applies to visitors who land on your website after clicking on a paid ad (either on search, social or other websites.) 

Yes, paid traffic sources are an investment. But with the right strategy, digital ad campaigns give you more control over the targeted traffic you direct to your website. 

How to improve paid traffic:

So, which types of web traffic should you invest in if you want to grow online? Here’s what I suggest:

Don’t try to master every type of web traffic right out of the gate. Begin with one or two. Master these. Then add additional traffic pillars as you grow your business. 

As mentioned above, organic traffic sources take time to generate results. Include these traffic sources in your mid-to long-term traffic acquisition strategy. In the meantime, invest in direct and paid traffic sources to get more customers now.

Minimum Viable Marketing For Startups: Your Bull’s-Eye Approach To a Winning Sales Funnel

Marketing for early-stage startups can feel a lot like throwing darts in the dark. 

You’re overwhelmed with options — elaborate sales funnels, costly paid ads, social media trends — so you try a little of everything, hoping something will hit the bull’s eye and catapult your business to success. The only problem? The vast majority of your darts don’t stick.

Fortunately, there’s a better way to grow your startup.

A way that doesn’t involve costly marketing budgets or convoluted frameworks with hard-to-remember acronyms. 

What’s the secret?

Keep your marketing simple with a minimum viable marketing system. You’ll minimise the risk of failure, optimise your marketing spend and establish market validation to streamline startup growth. 

Let’s take a closer look at what a simple marketing system entails. We’ll then use this principle to outline a straightforward yet strategic lead sales funnel that drives results:

What is a minimum viable marketing system?

You’ve probably heard the term minimum viable product (MVP). The idea is to test a business idea at minimal cost to (1) guarantee product/market fit and (2) make necessary adjustments early on. In other words, you want to assess how the market reacts to the product. 

A minimum viable marketing system works in conjunction with your MVP. You deploy low-cost marketing activities to identify what works to accelerate growth (without wasting time and resources on bloated campaigns.)

If you’re in software, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Fail early, fail often.” The same idea applies to your marketing. 

Think of your early-stage startup as an experiment. First, you must craft a hypothesis, then use data-driven insights to prove (or disprove) your theory. We call this test-and-learn marketing.

Rather than guessing which darts will stick, you use data to zero in on what works. You test, and you learn. 

This is the foundation of a minimum viable marketing system — and it’s a low-cost way to dramatically improve the chances of a successful product launch. 

The benefits of a minimum viable marketing system for startups

Verifies market demand

Verify market demand, so you don’t waste your time, resources, and energy on a product your target market doesn’t need or want. 

Tests UX to create products people actually want

UX in digital marketing drives purchasing decisions. The most successful startups shrink the gap between marketing and UX design to improve usability and brand interactions — and they do so early on.

Attracts early adopters and drives customer engagement

Early adaptors provide you with invaluable information, boost your credibility, and form the foundation of brand development

Improves messaging and brand propositioning

Get laser-focused on your target audience and better understand their driving wants and needs so that you create magnetic messaging that improves sales. 

Optimises marketing campaigns 

It bears repeating: As an early-stage startup, you can’t afford to waste limited resources on marketing that doesn’t impact your bottom line. Start small. Test and learn. Optimise and iterate — watch as you quickly transition from early to growth stage marketing. 

How to build a test-and-learn lead sales funnel 

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of a minimum viable marketing strategy let’s explore my three-part framework for a winning lead sales funnel:

1. Craft your lead magnet

Email marketing is more important now than ever before.

You communicate with your target audience where they are already engaging, and you build your business on the real estate you own.

How do you build your email list? You give your prospects something valuable. In digital marketing, we call this your lead magnet. 

Your lead magnet could be content, a discount, a webinar or an event. Don’t overthink it, but do answer the question, “How can I provide massive impact — and how can I do it quickly?”

No one wants to slog through a 100-page ebook unless that ebook is jam-packed with value on every page. Identify your prospect’s most common pain points. Then, create a lead magnet that solves one of those problems right now. 

2. Build your landing page

The next step to your sales funnel in digital marketing is to craft a landing page that converts. 

Now, a high-converting landing page is different from a website. Both are important; both serve unique needs. 

Think of your landing page like your sales page; it promotes one product well. There are no distractions — only laser-focused design and copy intentionally crafted to convert traffic into customers. 

To get started with your landing page:

Read my complete guide to building the perfect landing page here.

3. Set up a traffic-driving campaign

Your high-converting landing page is live, and your value-packed lead magnet is ready to roll. You just need one last thing in your minimum viable marketing: targeted traffic to your assets. 

I almost always suggest that early-stage startups run paid ads. That’s because paid ads are an intelligent way to conduct small-scale testing and ensure market validation from the get-go. But paid ads aren’t the only way to drive traffic. 

Organic social media campaigns, cold emails, and even analogue media (like flyers) can work. The key is to show up wherever your audience spends time. If your target market is not on TikTok, don’t spend your resources here — even if it is trendy to do so.

I recommend targeting each of your possible target customer personas. Start broad, then remove low-converting audiences as you learn more about your market. 

Pro tip: Don’t give up if you don’t see immediate results! Optimise your campaign and landing page using test-and-learn marketing until you get results. And if nothing works, embark on a customer discovery journey to ensure you have product/market fit. 

To sum it up

When you’re an early-stage startup, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to invest your limited time and resources in marketing that works. However, resist the urge to haphazardly throw any marketing dart you can find. 

Instead, use this three-step sales funnel and hit the bull’s eye with your minimum viable marketing. Then you can expand your efforts as your business grows.