How to Systematically Turn Strangers into Raving Fans in The Digital Age

by Frank Cowell | Updated Nov 4, 2021

Digital marketing—when done right—can differentiate your brand, generate leads, and fill your pipeline with qualified opportunities that take your brand to the next level.

However, today’s digital marketing isn’t living up to that potential on a consistent basis. It’s “hit and miss” and, frankly, I know execs are getting tired of funding digital marketing efforts that result in lackluster performance. If you’re a CEO, CMO or executive reading this, you probably know the exact frustration I’m describing.

The problem?

Today’s digital marketing is all about chasing the latest “trick.” We’ve become obsessed with SEO tactics, Facebook ad hacks, automation software, and on and on. Instead of being obsessed with creating value, digital marketing has sunk to looking for the latest tactic and trick, focusing on vanity metrics and numbers that simply have little to do with your ROI.

The result?

Your pipeline is thin. Your brand is drowning in a sea of sameness. You find there’s precious little strategy in your digital marketing program...And you’re tired of being on the hamster wheel.

It’s frustrating to chase clicks when it never seems to produce real results. So it’s no surprise that you’re beginning to wonder if digital marketers are all full of it.

I feel your pain...

I may be the CEO of a digital marketing agency, but there was a time when I was also looking for the latest tactic and trick. Like many business leaders, I was chasing the latest digital marketing tactics that, ultimately, left me fed-up and frustrated.

What I was doing didn’t work most of the time, and when it did, it certainly wasn’t reliable. Like many (and maybe you, too?), I was addicted to the high of the latest digital marketing tactic. Eventually, I decided that enough was enough.

It was time to get back to basics.

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Digital Marketing Basics

As a first step towards developing a digital marketing program that actually worked, I went back to my roots in branding and strategic business fundamentals: marketing that actually works is about honing in on your who.

Let me explain...

In today’s crowded, noisy world, you can’t win on features and benefits. You see, technology has become the great equalizer. Companies of all sizes now have access to the people and tools necessary to create amazing offerings.

Not long after you create a feature-based competitive advantage with your product, your competition catches up. Your winning differentiation is quickly equalized. Your offering is now just one of many, swimming in a sea of sameness.

If you’re going to win, you don’t need to out-do your competition, you need to out-who them!

Doing this requires getting close to specific buyers who experience pain points that you’re obsessed about solving.

It’s not that features and benefits don’t matter. Rather, these are secondary to honing in on your who and creating a relationship with your ideal buyer.

Of course, many before me have preached “relationship” when it comes to marketing and sales. However, I’ve found that the problem with previous advice is that it almost always amounts to nothing more than a mantra — it lacks specific ideas for how to actually create and elevate relationships. Especially in a new age, where digital business is the norm.

To truly attract and engage your target audience in the digital age, it requires a different marketing playbook — one that addresses the realities of today’s buyers.

Think about it. Today’s buyers are in full control. They determine the what, where, and how when it comes to researching you and the countless other options in the marketplace. And if you’re not there digitally, serving them with the information, resources, and offers that are relevant to them, you’ve lost.

The big “a-ha!” here?!

This new playbook requires that you take a content first approach.

Now, some may say this is just “content marketing.” Yes, it’s true that “content marketing” is one way to describe what I’m about to teach you. But if “content marketing” is the answer, then we would see a lot of success around companies that are engaging in “content marketing.”

The reality is that most are not successful, and that’s because most approach “content marketing” exactly like I described at the start of this article — they’re looking for the latest “trick” that will drive more traffic and engagement.

Sadly, this didn’t work for me. And my guess is that it’s not working for you.

When it all finally worked, it was the result of five philosophies infused into a strategic blueprint for content, advertising, social media, SEO, and nurturing. It all came together beautifully in one easy-to-understand digital strategy.

If you’re ready to take your organization to the next level, this strategy will clarify what to focus on when it comes to digital marketing, sales, and customer service.

I’m passionate about this digital strategy, and I’m more than excited to share it with you now.

The name of this transformational concept?

It’s called The Digital Utopia Methodology.

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What is the Digital Utopia Methodology?

To put it simply, The Digital Utopia Methodology is a growth strategy for systematically transforming strangers into raving fans in the digital age. When you employ The Digital Utopia Methodology in your organization, you’ll have highly curated Digital Brand Experiences for your customers that uniquely position you in the marketplace. 

The Digital Utopia Methodology allows your digital marketing and sales to hone in on your who. It’s a strategy for business owners, CMOs, VPs of Sales and Marketing, or any leader who’s ready to get back to the basics and start generating the measurable results that drive growth.

While The Digital Utopia Methodology is simple to understand, implementing it will require a paradigm shift in how you think about sales, marketing, and customer service.

And this paradigm shift starts with Digitopia’s Five Core Philosophies.

The Five Core Philosophies

1. Customer Service Mindset

A critical mindset shift required in the “age of the consumer” is moving from a place of promotion to a place of service. As I previously mentioned, today’s buyer is in control. And they want nothing to do with your “pitch.” Remember, they have no shortage of options in the marketplace. Marketing and sales are the new customer service.

2. Hyper-specificity

The success of any marketing campaign greatly hinges on how specific the targeting and messaging is. It’s been said that “marketing to everybody is as effective as marketing to nobody.” This philosophy requires that each Digital Brand Experience is hyper-focused on one buyer persona with one key pain point. We want to make sure that your information, resources, and offers resonate at maximum levels.

3. Slow Down to Speed Up

In order to effectively engage our buyer persona, we must shift our thinking from “how do we increase conversion?” to “how can we elevate the relationship?”. As marketers and salespeople, we have to slow down and stop trying to rush things. Some are so eager after someone downloads an eBook from the website that they immediately go right to making a product pitch. The key is to make each step a “baby step” that is highly connected to the last. And along the way, you aim to provide value and delight so that your buyer persona is enthused and excited about each action they take.

4. Top-Down Optimization

In any given process where “step 1” is the “input,” improving the performance of the second or later step yields increased output without increasing the input. This is critical when it comes to your marketing-to-sales funnel because “step 1” (Visitors to your website or landing page) is the most expensive step in the process.

Consider the following scenario: If you spend $10,000 to drive 5,000 visitors to a landing page that (eventually) translates to 5 customers, but your goal is 15 customers, would you rather:

  • Triple your spend to $30,000 to get those 15 customers
  • Or would you rather optimize from the top, down to figure out how to get those 15 customers from the same $10,000?

Pretty easy answer, right?

5. Commitment & Consistency

Digital marketing is a lot like a gym membership. You can have access to all of the latest, fancy equipment (strategies, tactics, and tools), but if you don’t consistently exercise (execute) and weigh yourself (analyze your results), you’re still going to be out of shape, so-to-speak. My advice is to stop chasing short-term gains and start playing the long game. No more shiny objects. Focus and execute. In the end, that’s all that matters.

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The Seven Relationship Levels

Specifically, there are seven relationship levels in The Digital Utopia Methodology:

  1. Fans
  2. Customers
  3. Opportunities
  4. Qualifieds
  5. Leads
  6. Visitors
  7. Strangers

You’ll notice that at each of these seven levels, your buyer has a heightened relationship with your brand.

While this looks like any other marketing-to-sales “funnel” (in reverse order), the Five Philosophies are a big part of what makes The Digital Utopia Methodology so special. When applying these philosophies, you end-up with a tightly-focused “funnel” that allows your target Buyer Persona to move from one relationship level to the next in a very natural, logical manner.

In essence, moving through your brand’s digital marketing and sales process becomes your buyer’s idea.

Let’s take a look at each relationship level, starting at the bottom because it will be easier for you to understand it from the Buyer Persona’s experience.

Elevate Strangers into Visitors

To elevate a Stranger into a Visitor, you produce content that drives awareness and engagement around helping your Buyer Persona take steps towards alleviating their specific pain point. At this stage, you produce content that provides differentiated approaches that are cornerstone to your brand.

We refer to content at this level as “Cornerstone Content.”

Examples include:

  • Blog Posts
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Case Studies
  • White Papers
  • Podcasts

Elevate Visitors into Leads

Once you have a Visitor that engages on your “Cornerstone Content,” you elevate them into a Lead by providing additional value related to the content they are consuming. This additional value should be an asset or resource that helps your Buyer Persona take a deeper step towards solving their specific pain point.

We refer to content at this level as a “Lead Magnet.” Lead Magnets should be much more valuable than your Cornerstone Content.

Examples include:

  • Templates
  • Tools
  • Calculators
  • Self Assessments
  • Checklists
  • Audit Worksheets
  • Blueprints/Cheat Sheets

The best Lead Magnets are those that are a “missing link” to your Cornerstone Content. For example, your Cornerstone Content might be a blog post that teaches a concept for overcoming topic X, and the Lead Magnet would be a tool that makes the process taught that much easier.

In exchange for this Lead Magnet, your Buyer Persona will give you their contact information (usually, a limited amount of contact information such as a name and an email address). With this exchange, you have now elevated them to a “Lead” in your database.

Elevate Leads into Qualifieds

Now that the Buyer Persona is a Lead in your database, your job isn’t complete — you must continue to provide focused value to elevate the relationship. To do this, provide your Buyer Persona with additional content, tools, and resources that provide deeper education about how to solve their specific pain point.

We refer to content at this level as “Deep Dive Content.”

Examples include:

  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Case Studies
  • White Papers
  • Books/E-Books
  • Online Courses
  • Offline Events

Buyer Personas that engage at this level have demonstrated that this particular pain point is very important to them. And they’ve taken these steps all on their own without a high-pressured sales pitch.

A Lead at this level can become “Qualified” when they meet demographic and other contact characteristics that you define based on your business requirements. Depending on your sales pipeline, this is often referred to as a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).

Elevate Qualifieds into Opportunities

Now that your Buyer Persona is a Qualified Lead, you elevate them into an Opportunity by making them an offer to take a small but important step towards having someone or something help solve their specific pain point. To do this, provide your Buyer Persona with an offer. This offer should be a natural next step that provides high value and little-to-no risk for your Buyer Persona.

We refer to an offer at this level as a “Foot-in-the-Door Offer.”

Examples include:

  • Consultation/Audits
  • One-on-one Demonstrations
  • Trials
  • In-person Seminars/Events
  • Estimates
  • Samples
  • Physical Books

As has been the theme to this point, however, this isn’t the time to make a pitch for your offering. Instead, you connect this offer to their last action:

“Now that you’ve done that, you should do this.”

In some businesses, this is a free offer, while in other businesses, this offer might be a relatively small monetary transaction. Either way, the offer you make shouldn’t be one of your brand’s Core Offers — it should be an offer to take real action now that they are educated about their pain point. All you’re trying to do at this point is demonstrate enough value to get your “foot in the door.”

Buyer Personas that engage at this level are very serious and deserve your highest level of attention, even if they ultimately can’t or won’t do business with your brand.

Elevate Opportunities into Customers

At this point, becoming a Customer is the next natural, logical thing to do for your Buyer Persona. It’s the final step towards solving their pain point once and for all. Make an offer to your Buyer Persona that demonstrates that you are the ideal resource to solve their pain point.

We refer to offers at this level as “Core Offers.” They are the core of what you’re selling in the marketplace.

As you engage your Buyer Persona at this level, here are some tips to ensure that you successfully elevate as many people as possible to the next level:

Maintain the “Customer Service Mindset” — it’s no longer ABC (“always be closing”), it’s ABV (“always bring value”)! As your Buyer Persona has engaged with your “marketing,” they’ve experienced a ton of value — continue providing value by being eager to help rather than pitch.

Crystalize Your Value Proposition — all of the hard work has been done. Your Buyer Persona is ready to buy from YOU. Don’t screw-it-up by dumping a ton of information on them. Instead, get good at articulating concepts that can be easily understood, and focus on what I call “the big ticket items” — the factors your Buyer Persona cares most about.

Make Buying a Little-to-No Risk Proposition — if you can eliminate all of the reasons your Buyer Persona would hesitate to do business with organizations like yours, your odds of earning their business go through the roof. Social proof, guarantees, and friendly terms are just a few of the major factors to examine. When you don’t win business that you otherwise thought you would win, it’s more-times-than-not due to some level of risk that you failed to mitigate. Your goal is to make the decision to buy an extremely easy one.

As I mentioned earlier, when you follow The Digital Utopia Methodology, the decision to take the step to becoming a Customer is completely natural. You will no longer have to resort to old school sales tactics — they will be gone forever. The net result is that you will win more of the right business and differentiate your brand along the way!

Elevate Customers into Fans

Once you have a Customer, you don’t stop offering value! While your Customer may have their main pain point solved by your company, there’s always another level you can take your Customers. This might be accomplished through additional Core Offers that help your Customer go even further, but they can also be free offerings, available only to your customers — a “velvet rope” if you will.

We refer to offers at this level as “Customer Delight.”

Examples include:

  • Continuing education/online courses
  • Office Hours
  • User Groups
  • Online Communities
  • Exclusive Content/Events
  • Discounts/Perks with Partners
  • Access to Exclusive Venues
  • Industry Data/Reports

When you build your company around providing Customers with this kind of value, you’ll create raving Fans. Let’s face it — in a world where there’s no shortage of options for your Customers, your only hope to keep Customers for the long haul is to commit to Customer Delight programs that go beyond “the invoice.”

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Take Your Growth to the Next Level 

You now have a roadmap to develop a growth machine for your company. While you may feel overwhelmed at first, be patient. Stay true to the five core philosophies and execute every day in service to your Buyer Personas.

I’d like to close with a quote attributed to Winston Churchill…

“Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it.”

The choice is yours.

You can dream about the possibilities of taking your brand to the next level. You can dream about marketplace differentiation. You can even dream about generating leads, opportunities, and customers.

Or you can actually do something about it.

Take the first step toward action now:

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