3 Tips for Determining Product-Market Fit

How do you know if your market really wants what you’re selling? Well, if they’re already buying it, then they must want it right? How do you know you wouldn’t be selling more of it if it fit your market’s needs just a little bit better? Providing value is the name of the game. It’s critical for the market you’re trying to serve to understand the value proposition of what you’re selling instantly. The quicker your customer can understand the value, the more you have achieved product-market fit.

Here are 3 tips for determining product-market fit quickly:

  1. Understand your customer’s current needs and foresee future ones. If you don’t know your customer very well, it’s going to be hard to really understand what they need. So figure out where they hang out – tradeshows, networking events, figure out which publications they read and read them too, join their social community groups, and find a mentor who can show you the ropes. Developing a deep understanding of the problems your customers are facing allows you to relate to them better and builds trust and credibility.
  2. Focus on one significant value proposition. I see small businesses all the time who get carried away with communicating too many features and benefits, rather than focusing on one significant value proposition. What tends to happen is – their customers don’t hear them. Narrowing it down can be difficult, but it’s an absolute game changer. Look for emerging trends in the industry you’re serving, determine where competitors fail to solve problems, and focus on one major pain point to solve for your customers.
  3. Build credibility. The best way to do this is by telling a story – you be the guide, and let your customer be the hero! Make your customer the center of the story, recognize their problem, offer a solution, and explain how you are the most qualified to help them solve the problem (give specific examples of cases where you helped someone solve a similar problem successfully), and give them a simple process to follow to work with you.

Need some help determining product-market fit for your business? Contact Us or set up a Complimentary Consultation for more information!

Why Starting a Business is Like Riding a Bicycle

I recently embarked on my 10th Houston to Austin, Texas MS 150 bike ride – a 160-mile ride to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research and support. I was on the bike for about 14 hours over 2 days, I burned over 7,000 calories, and there were a whole lot of hills involved. In between thinking about my tired legs and how many miles I had to the next rest stop, I had a lot of time to think about life too.

People ask me all the time about this ride, “How do you do it? What’s the secret?” And I tell them, “There’s no secret, you just keep pedaling, that’s it. And when it gets tough and you don’t think you can pedal anymore, you keep on pedaling until you get there, and you just don’t give up.” There’s a lot of suffering involved with endurance road cycling…especially when the weather presents a challenge. Wind, rain, cold…can definitely wreak havoc on your ride. And when you add in the hills too, it can really get tough! But then some rides are fantastic! Sometimes the weather is perfect, and the wildflowers are blooming, and I think, “Wow, I’m the luckiest person in the world!” And on some rides, I’m thinking I feel great, and then suddenly the road turns and I’m riding uphill, battling a head wind. Then the road turns back and I’m flying downhill effortlessly!

As I was riding the hills on the MS 150 this year, it occurred to me how similar the feeling is to starting a business. Sometimes I’ve got it all figured out, and everything is going according to plan, and I feel like I’m on top of the world! And before I know it, it’s not quite as perfect a situation as I thought, and now I’m solving challenges, and I may not know when those challenges will be resolved. And I just have to power through it and keep on moving! And never give up, because waiting around the corner is the top of another hill – another high point!

I recently heard Dave Asprey, Founder and CEO of Bulletproof Coffee speak at a Digital Marketer conference. He recommended tolerating a cold shower every morning to develop your mental toughness. I feel like for me, cycling has taught me the mental toughness and stamina required for entrepreneurship. One of my favorite quotes is one by Albert Einstein, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” So, when life gives you lemons….don’t forget to just keep moving! (After all, lemonade can be very refreshing after a little exercise!)

For more information on powering through and powering up your business, please contact us for a complimentary consultation!

Shifting Away From SEO: Succeeding In A Changing Digital Market

If you’ve spent any part of the last five years in any field of marketing and you’ve likely heard about the wonders of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to promote your business. Though with the fast moving pace of today’s hyper-connected digital world, the power of SEO is quickly fading into more focused and strategic methods.

Just as Google has changed over the last half decade, introducing newer algorithm updates and mobile first initiatives to make searching better for users, so too do businesses need to adapt to get their message and content across. The ability to adjust is the benchmark for which businesses will either thrive or falter. Brand content must engage with and convert potential clients and customers on the platform and device that they spend the most time on.

To stay ahead of the momentous shifts in the digital world, it’s important to understand and tailor your approach in a more forward-thinking manner.

Shifting the focus from SEO to content convergence

Content alone doesn’t ensure successful conversions, just as SEO alone doesn’t ensure that your audience will engage with your content. As the fields of data and analytics grow, they offer a greater opportunity for businesses to understand their consumers and create more intelligent content to deliver a successful campaign.

Content should be based on clearly defined data of audience, engagement, and conversion metrics which are all trackable. Using both organic search opportunities and social content is also often a more strategic way to boost visibility and engage with a relevant audience.

Creating more shareable and higher achieving return on investment content such as videos, infographics, and articles also allows you to capitalize on current trends and stand out from the crowd while still giving you opportunities for site links, shares, tweets, and others.

Make it mobile

In today’s world mobile has surpassed the desktop and your business must be ready to meet users where they are: on mobile devices.

In this mobile-first world you should have a good understanding of mobile user behavior and purposes in order to tailor your experience to exceed those expectations.

Having a fast loading website is half the battle in winning in the mobile field. The majority of mobile users usually take to their smartphones to do research – whether it is to find a restaurant or to look up a topic – make sure that your business meets them there and can then use that content to convert into sales.

Understanding these key frameworks and adapting them to your business is the true key to success in this vibrant and connected marketplace.

Want to learn more about how content marketing could work for your business? Contact Us or set up a Complimentary Consultation for more information!

Will Marketers Be Replaced by Bots?

In a world of Siri and Alexa, automated phone systems, the internet of things, and artificial intelligence that’s becoming more and more sophisticated – sometimes it seems like humans may be starting to take a backseat to the world of automation. Like maybe Skynet is real!! We sit glued to our phones rather than interacting with each other. We spend more time on Facebook than in real person-to-person conversations. So what does this mean for the world of digital marketing? Is the secret just to ride the wave of automation, and automate more than our competitors to win the race?

According to Ryan Deiss at Digital Marketer’s recent Traffic & Conversions Summit, in the face of increasing automation, the future is in real human interactions. In other words, bots and automation are there to facilitate human interaction, rather than replace it. You may have heard of ChatBots and Facebook Messenger Marketing. These are both great tools! And they are there to start a conversation, not replace a real human. They are great for filtering leads according to interests, and moving people to the next step, but they are not meant to close the deal.

That being said – the amazing thing about Messenger Marketing and ChatBots is that you are meeting people where they are used to interacting! People are used to chatting on messenger, opening links and videos from their friends, and interacting with people there, while less and less people may be willing to interact with your brand over email. And the best part is, Messenger Marketing and ChatBots are still relatively new, so it’s still early enough to beat the wave!

Want to learn more about how Messenger Marketing or ChatBots could work for your business? Contact Us or set up a Complimentary Consultation for more information!

The 3 Types of Marketing Emails, and How to Use Them

The key to success in email marketing is sending the right type of email at the right time. It’s important to understand the types of emails that businesses send, and how to use them. So take a look at these 3 types of marketing emails, and think of how you are or how you might use them in your business!

1. Promotional Emails – these are the most common type of marketing emails, and their purpose is to make an offer to your email list. The offer could be promotional content, a white paper or webinar, a brand announcement, a new product release and more. A whopping 66% of consumers have made a purchase as a direct result of an email marketing message, so it’s no wonder promotional emails are so popular – they work!

2. Relational Emails – these deliver value to your customers by providing free content and information, such as subscriber welcomes, newsletters, blog articles, surveys, social updates and more. Relational emails may not make an offer, or sell a product or service directly, but they are designed to build relationships with the customer by adding value up front. For example, when your email subscriber receives a piece of high-quality content in your e-newsletter, he or she is interacting with your brand in a deeper and more meaningful way.

3. Transactional emails – these are sent in response to an action that a customer has taken with your brand. They include messages such as order confirmations, receipts, coupon codes, shipping notifications, password reminders and more. This type of email is often overlooked as an opportunity to give customers an idea of the voice behind your brand, and what it is like to do business with you. Do you deliver what you promised? Do you respect your customer’s wishes? The leads and customers on your email list are observing how you do business, and transactional emails are a big part of that!

The purpose of email marketing is to move a customer along their customer journey. From prospect to customer, and from customer to raving fan! Whether it’s keeping a customer excited about a purchase they’ve recently made, or adding value in advance with your e-newsletter, you’ll want to keep these 3 types of emails in mind for email marketing success!

Need some help with your email marketing? Contact Us or set up a Complimentary Consultation for more information!

How to Get Clear on the Value you Provide

I bet you’re clear on what you sell…a service, a product…but are you really clear on the value you provide? Understanding the value you bring to the marketplace is the essential ingredient in digital marketing success. In fact, people don’t actually buy products or services; instead, they buy outcomes.

Imagine a group of people who are discontented for some reason. They may not even be aware of their discontented state, but life could be better. These people are in what we call the “Before” state. No matter what you’re selling, you’re looking to reach a group of prospective customers who are in this unhappy “before” state. Think of your prospective customers, and write down some adjectives that describe them before they’ve experienced your product or service. Are they fearful? Out of shape? Tired? Bored?

Now take a giant leap into the future, to the point after the customer has experienced your product or service. What is their “After” state? Are they calm? Healthier? Energized? More excited?

The outcome, or shift from the Before to the After state is what your customer is buying. This shift is the value that your business brings to the marketplace. And the role of your marketing is to clearly articulate this move from the Before to the After state!

Want to learn more about communicating your value? Contact Us or set up a Complimentary Consultation for more information! (Image credit: Digital Marketer).

3 Reasons People Aren’t Stopping By (or Staying On) Your Website

You made a website. Now what? There was a time when that effort alone would have been enough to make you look shiny and new to consumers. Those days are long gone, however, and if your visitors are bouncing away as soon as they arrive — or worse, they’re not arriving at all — you’re probably committing one of the cardinal sins of web design and content creation.

Here are a few reasons your site may be sending people in the opposite direction:

1. Your Site’s Confusing. Flashy pages, cluttered sites, and confusing navigation will lead people away long before they learn anything about you. Keep it clean and easy.

2. You Talk About Yourself Too Much. Your website needs to tout your amazingness, and your content does, too, but you have to find the line between boasting and bringing value. People don’t so much care how great you are; they care how you can help them. Make sure you’re offering tips, tricks, and reasons your consumers should learn more about you. Don’t forget to engage in shares and retweets from others knowledgeable in your industry!

3. You Don’t Know What’s Not Working. You can’t just put stuff out to the world and expect it to make online magic happen. Content procurement is an ongoing process, filled with testing, analytics, and re-vamps. Once you know what works well — or what’s not working at all — you can optimize your strategy.

Need a little help creating an attractive website that draws visitors in? Zebra Marketing Solutions has you covered! Our website design services will keep customers coming your way! Reach out to us to learn how we can help you!

Strategies, Plans, and Schedules: What Do These Marketing Phrases Mean?

When it comes to marketing, there are three words you may hear more than anything else: strategies, plans, and schedules. Seeing as how these words appear so many times over the course of a marketer’s endeavors, they must be important. But, what exactly do they mean, and how do they impact your success as you try to grow your business?


Your marketing strategy should help you achieve your revenue goals by implementing elements such as:

  • Online advertising
  • Lead capture and nurture
  • Social Media
  • Overarching marketing goals and


Knowing what you’re going to talk about — and who you’re going to talk to — can mean the difference between success and just-like-everybody-else. A solid content plan will help you understand your audience and address their needs appropriately.

If you’re struggling with writer’s block, consider these tips:

  • Record yourself as you talk about your business, then play it back and take notes of important details your content should cover.
  • Answer questions your customers ask you on a regular basis.
  • Tell the story behind a testimonial or outstanding review.


Content calendars can make your world so much easier. A content calendar is the perfect way to ensure you’re supplying blog posts, social media contributions, and email campaigns to your audience at relevant times.

Marketing can be a full-time job for even the smallest of businesses. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything your marketing calendar encompasses, it’s time to seek the help of an expert! Book your free Strategy Session with our Zebra Marketing Solutions team today!

Pitch-Perfect: Putting the Right Amount of Personalization into Your Sales Strategy

When you enter a sales meeting of any sort — be it online, on the phone, or in person — your expectation is to walk out with a win. After all, you wouldn’t go through the pain of preparing if you weren’t sure you can meet your clients’ ultimate needs, right?

Unfortunately, the sales funnel isn’t very forgiving. If you want your pitch to resonate with potential customers, you have to personalize your message such that it speaks to your audience. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Put Professional Online Stalking to Work. LinkedIn and Twitter can be your best friends when you’re trying to learn more about your prospective customers. Search social media sources to learn what your prospects talk about, what language or tone they use, and which word choices might work best. The more you know about your consumer, the better you can position your brand.

2. Put Out the Right Attitude. Are you working with someone who’s laid back and has no worries, or are you dealing with a corporate executive who’s spent 35 years on his or her career journey? You can send the same message two very different ways, depending on the recipient. It’s important to know who you’re talking to.

3. Respond Accordingly. Read your respondents’ behaviors. Do they need a friendly, enthusiastic follow-up, or will they react better to conservative approaches?

Need help bolstering your marketing strategies to new levels? Book your free Strategy Session with our Zebra Marketing Solutions team today!

Are you Left-Brained, Right-Brained, or RankBrained?

When it comes to finding your place in the world, some people argue you’re either a left-brained (analytical) or right-brained (creative) personality type. While science can support or debunk positions on either case, Google has stepped in to create a whole new argument: the RankBrain.

Before you try to digest everything that comprises the Google universe, it’s important to understand that’s impossible. Once you’re okay with that, you can take in small tidbits of information and make them work for your own unique needs.

Meet RankBrain

RankBrain is Google’s newest invention. It’s a machine learning system that facilitates Google’s search processes, helping consumers find the right results. Machine learning, by definition, means the tool gets smarter each time it’s used, helping users gain more valuable information while you find yourself in front of people who are most likely to love your business.

Make Friends with RankBrain

Because you’re not dealing with a human-based interface, you’ll need to look at RankBrain a bit differently.

  • Test & Tweak. You can no longer put things out to the universe and hope they work out. Optimize your content strategy by employing tools that help you perform proper A/B testing before you publish.
  • Hone-In on Your Focus. RankBrain expects you to speak to specific audiences. In order to do so, you have to tighten up your content such that it speaks to the people you’re trying to reach.

Every successful business needs a little outside expertise once in a while. If Google’s algorithms have got you down, it’s time to turn to our team at Zebra Marketing Solutions! Book your complimentary Strategy Session today, and let’s get started improving your rankings!

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