Outbound Marketing VS Inbound Marketing – Which is right for your business?
Are you exceeding your sales targets?
Or do you get to the end of the month and have to have a call blitz; 100 cold calls and no one wants to talk to you. There has to be a better way to get sales...
Most marketing up until the advent of the internet has been outbound or interruption marketing. This is everything from TV spots, newspaper adverts, cold calling, direct mail, and anything else that interrupts people with a message.
Now you can add to that list email marketing, banner adverts and pay per click (PPC) and similar online interruptions. Studies show that people viewing websites now automatically block out banner adverts. Anything that looks like an advert is less likely to be seen.
Most businesses still rely on outbound marketing but they are getting less and less return from it. Newspaper adverts no longer have the pull that they once did. There are more magazines than ever and it is becoming more difficult to reach your prospects.
So what so the answer?
In a recent article I suggest that all advertising should have a social media element to help engage with your audience. Now I suggest going one step further and having an inbound marketing campaign in operation at all times.
Inbound marketing includes SEO, content marketing, social media engagement, video, guerrilla tactics and more. Using a combination of tactics across several platforms is most effective. You can aim your inbound marketing accurately to where your target audience is.
The big advantage of inbound marketing is that you are not interrupting people with your message. Prospects come to you and come predisposed to purchase. Studies show that around 80% of people research a purchase before contacting a business. Inbound marketing puts your business at the top of the searches and in front of prospective purchasers.
Here are some interesting statistics about inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing tends to be less expensive and give a better return on investment. However it is no so immediate as outbound marketing. With outbound I can place an advert in a Sunday paper and have calls on the Monday. How many and how good the leads are is another matter.
Which is best for your business?
Inbound marketing takes time to build and the effect comes after several months of effort. So a combination approach, especially in the early months, is always recommended. However many businesses have already found inbound to be more effective and have now dropped outbound completely.
Some businesses are more suitable to inbound and others must retain at least an element of outbound. Striking the correct balance will come over time. I suggest starting a program of inbound marketing to see what returns you get over 12 to 18 months.
Once you can clearly see that this will work for your business you can commit more fully to it. The future for most businesses will involve increasing amounts of inbound marketing and for a large number of companies this will become the model for future marketing.
Interruption marketing is harder to make work. It is far better to be a business people are talking about and engaging with regularly. In this way when a purchase is to be made your company is the first choice. This takes time and concerted effort, but I believe it is worth it and will give you a sustainable marketing model that gives a great ROI for the future.
For more information on how Inbound Marketing can work for your business get in touch with Alex and the CR4L team.Contact Us or use the form below...
Word of Mouth Marketing – demonstrably effective
There is a growing amount of data that indicates why word-of-mouth marketing is so appealing.
US trade body Womma (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) has conducted research showing that 72 per cent of consumer credit reviews from family or friends have either a great deal or a ‘fair amount’ of influence when deciding whether to use a product or service, while 81 per cent of consumers are influenced by their friends’ social media posts.
According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages report, published in September 2013, ‘recommendations from people I know’ are the most trusted form of brand advertising, with a score of 84 per cent.
And as digital communications have penetrated our world, this figure has grown, having been just 78 per cent in 2007.
It is also far more popular than the alternatives. The same report scores branded websites at 69 per cent, TV adverts at 62 per cent and emails – even those that consumers have consented to receive – at 56 per cent.
How Can Your Business Use This To It’s Advantage?
Word of mouth advertising has been around for a long time. We all love to be recommended to companies and products. When we are, as we have seen above, it makes a big difference to our purchases.
But how can we use this in our businesses to full effect? Personally I think that social media has given every business, no matter how big or small, a great opportunity to engage with their customers and prospects. Now we can use positive feedback and reviews as well as other social evidence to full effect online.
Not only that but as we have seen with the example of Plusnet we can use incentives to get our existing customers to bring in their friends. And customers that are recommended by a friend to Plusnet have a 50% lower churn rate.
Is It Time You Leveraged This Powerful Technique?
At CR4L Results Marketing we are implementing schemes like the Plusnet one for our clients. The numbers speak for themselves and we suggest you try a similar plan; especially if you sell to the public.
For more information see http://www.cr4l.com
I love LinkedIn and wrote an article on how to best use it to get hot leads for your business (see the article here). Now it’s the turn of Facebook...
Facebook is a strange beast, and I mean beast:
But speaking from experience advertising on Facebook does not increase the bottom line. It’s cheap and gets traffic but actually getting sales from Facebook adverts has been hard. Until I stopped paying...
Now I don’t pay for adverts on Facebook but I am starting to get traction. Here is my latest figures:
Does that mean sales? No. But keep reading to find out to get more likes, more readers, more exposure and, yes, more sales...
Facebook lets you engage with your target audience. It also lets you capture their details and that is the key to success. Once you have their details you can engage with them and they will buy from you.
The step are simple enough:
1. Build a business page (not a personal page)
2. Add great content
3. Get likes – build your audience
4. Convert likes to contacts with data catchment
5. People will buy from you
Some businesses set up a profile for their business as if it were a person. It’s not effective so don’t waste your time. Be professional from day 1.
As with all successful strategies online content is king. Add great content to your Facebook page. Take it from your website and blog posts. If your company has brochures add them too and offer them as downloads.
Every time I post on my blog it automatically posts to my business Facebook page. It has a back link to the blog so drives traffic there. This has the dual effect of adding great content and getting people to my website.
Once you have something worth seeing you can start attracting visitors. Remember that your page must offer great value to the reader. They must want to go there and return. The truth is that after liking a page most people will not go back to it. However they will receive your posts directly on their news feed.
But be warned: if they do not engage with your content by commenting, liking or sharing it Facebook will notice. After a while Facebook will stop sending your content to their newsfeed. So keep your content informative, of value and engaging. Be fun and quirky too and you can even be controversial so that people comment more.
So how do you get likes?
1. Invite your personal friends
2. Invite your email contacts
3. Invite your business database
Join relevant groups on Facebook. Post on their timeline and attract people to your page. People on Facebook like to stay on Facebook. Make it easy for them. At the same time you can enhance results with offers of benefits if they like your page. This could be anything you can give away for free and preferably via email; like and eBook. To help with this kind of giveaway you can use a service like Rafflecopter. They have a free version which will suffice as the premium is a bit expensive.
Groups are key. Just as on LinkedIn you need to find and engage with groups relevant to your business. Then you post your articles and blog posts with these groups too. I post all my blog posts on my blog, Facebook page and in all my LinkedIn and Facebook groups. Maximum coverage and impact.
Your goals are to increase engagement, build authority and trust. Comments from customers are great here so ask some happy customers to posts some good feedback on your page for you. Once your page gets bigger you can even segment it and have sub groups. You may have a testing group for new offers or ideas; another of existing clients and another for people interested in one area you deal in.
Next put links to your page on your website and blog. Add like buttons everywhere you can and use the send buttons too so that people can share your posts with their friends. This is where valuable information is key to success. Your articles must be worthy of sharing.
This article is a prime example. I know of one marketer who charged $40 for an information product which said pretty much all that I am. However he left out one vital point about data catchment. You see its all very well having a great Facebook page and lots of likes. But as I have already said people on Facebook like to stay on Facebook.
So now you have to entice them off and into your data catchment. But let’s not leave just yet. You can use events to get leads and you can use the Raffelcopter system I mentioned earlier. They are both hosted on your Facebook page so that is a big plus.
Of course all of your blog posts and articles will entice people away to your website where I am sure you have great data catchment (if not call me!). But one thing that is overlooked by almost all Facebook business pages is that you can use the "about" section at the top left of your Facebook page. This little box is edited in the admin and called “short description”. Use it as an advert and put your website link in it (use the full http:// version).
Entice people away for a great offer or free product. This section stays on top of the page ALL the time. People will see it and if it’s a good offer they will click the link. Have a look at mine on the Results Marketing System page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/resultsmarketingsystem?ref=hl)
So in a nutshell.:
1. Great content
2. Attract relevant visitors
3. Give value and engage
4. Capture data
Happy Days! More sales :)
Alternatively: if you don’t have the time to do all of this for your business but would like the results, you can get CR4L to do it for you. We have a package that is guaranteed to work – or you don’t pay!
This is another offer from Results Marketing. See more at http://cr4l.com
You will have seen how LinkedIn has become an important tool in business marketing. There are millions of business people using it every day. There are thousands of companies, with a plethora of employees all interconnected.
You can advertise on LinkedIn and I have tried this for certain offers. But unless you have a big budget I suggest the free tactics that I have given here; I know that they work. So how do you get your offer to the people that matter and the people you want to sell to? I'll tell you in a moment but first...
...Before I answer that question I think it best to mention that when you are looking to engage with others you must consider how they will view you. So before you set out looking for clients and contacts on LinkedIn make sure your profile is up to date and full.
Top 6 LinkedIn Profile Tips:
1. A professional photo
2. Be individual and distinct – stand out
3. Don’t be all things to everyone – use your mission statement to filter out people as much as attract new prospects
4. KISS – keep it simple and to the point – don’t ramble on
5. Show clear and measured achievements – “increased sales by 220% in 2013”
6. Get referrals – not just people endorsing you but real detailed referrals from clients and colleagues
Once you have a great profile you can start some marketing….
Here are 2 main strategies that I recommend:
1. The Mass Approach
2. The Select Approach
1. The Mass Approach is a great way to create interest in your offer and bring people to your website. The basics are simple and can be laid out in simple steps:
a. Join groups in your niche or market.
b. Post useful information on their forum and take part in the discussions that are there. Be sure to lead people to your website to find out more valuable information.
c. Post teaser articles leading to your blog posts and thus to your website
As with most strategies that involve social media, you need to give value first. Give as much helpful information as you can. Lead people to your website to find out more. Get them to join your newsletter to get even greater value.
If you maintain a presence in the key groups you will be seen as a person (or business) that gives value. In this way you are also in the forefront of people’s minds; you are visible. So when people have a need they will come to you as first choice.
I regularly post articles in the groups I am a member of. I try and give helpful information and in doing so I build my brand and stature in that community. Then my prospects will look to me for more advice and services when the need arises.
2. The Select Approach is a little more involved and more subtle.
First you need to identify 10 companies (or people) that you want to sell to. Follow them and see who they are connected to and what groups they are in. Join groups that you think fit your business.
Next you need to look for people who have recently departed the company; recent ex-employees. Search the company and then look for people that have worked there in the past. You can do this on the searches if you do a detailed search. Then connect with them…
[…At this point I should say that I only have a standard LinkedIn account, not premium (paid) account. You can get more features, approach people directly and see more information with a premium account but I tried it and am happy enough not paying now.
So how to connect with someone you don’t know? Well you can join a group that they are in or look to connect with a middle man. I wanted to connect with a CEO one time and I found that his PA was my second connection. So I connected with her and then I was second connection to half the company.
If you give value and are respected, people will want to connect with you. Connections on LinkedIn work like network marketing. If I know 100 people and they all know 100 people then I have a loose connection with 10,000 people, level 2. Personally I have around 600 connections and on average they have 100 connections each so I have direct access to 60,000 people on LinkedIn.
You can see that by knowing more people I am connected to 100 times that number. If I then add in the Level 3, which I can get to, even without premium membership, via my level 2 connections, I am connected to 6,000,000 people.
So one of them probably works at the company I am targeting, or used to; and if not someone will be connected enough for me to find a connection. the other great way to connect is through gropus. Some comapnies make it easy and have groups of their own. A lot of the employees ill be members. So you can join the group and get connected in that way. ]
So now you have access to ex-employees of a company its time to use that. Write to them and say that you are researching the company that they used to work at. Ask them some questions relevant to your offer. In my case I would look for someone who worked in the marketing department. I would ask them what challenges they faced and how they dealt with them. I would also ask what challenges the company was working on for the future.
Gather as much information as you can. The reason for talking to ex-employees is that they will be more willing to engage with you about a company they used to work at. They are also more likely to be frank and tell you about real problems faced by that company.
Now you know what problems the company faces make sure you place prominently on your profile examples of how you have solved these problems in the past for clients. Give exact examples with measured results for the best effect. Make sure these appear on your website too.
Then when you go to the next stage and engage with people who currently work at the company they will see that you can help. Engage these people in conversation and find out if they are still dealing with the same issues. If so let them know how you or your product or company can help.
In this way you are tailoring your offer to meet the exact needs of a business before you initially engage with them. Once you do engage with them your offer will speak right to their needs. You will be half way to the sale already.
This is a very powerful tactic and you can use it on 1 or 10 companies at a time. More would dilute your efforts so I suggest starting with a maximum of 10.
LinkedIn is a great way to engage with people, speak directly to their needs and show how you can be of service. Remember to give value first in all social media activities (if not everything you do!).
For more information on social media and to get free downloads about marketing see http://www.cr4l.com/self-marketing-download.html
What are the 7 key things every start-up company should be doing to market their business?
1. Build a website
2. Get traffic to that website
3. Build a list of prospects
4. Build relationships with prospects
5. Get feedback
6. Sell product
7. Get feedback – the second cup
You’ll notice that all the way down in 6th is the selling, and get feedback is before and after the sale. Feedback and customer opinion is important in any business. In a startup business feedback is essential in developing the offer and product.
You may be aware that many startup businesses have a great product or service and then proceed to fail in taking it to market. One of the main problems is that as an entrepreneur or business developer you can get so involved in your amazing new product that you lose sight of what the real world will thinks of it.
I am sure that you will agree this is one of the reasons that market testing is essential before committing to a big launch. If you have ever seen Dragons Den on TV you are sure to have seen entrepreneurs that are very enthusiastic about their product. But the sum total of their testing is often just asking their friends what they think. Dragons want to see sales to the public and public feedback; not mates telling you your widget is great.
So you can see the advantage of a soft launch before committing a lot of money to a big launch: See if you can get a few early adopters. Then get feedback from them and develop your offer so that you can get to the next stage and on to the mass market.
Let’s assume that you have some product to sell or your beta system is ready to trial, then the steps are simple:
1. Build a website
You’ll probably remember that a few years ago websites were very expensive things built by geeks. Now ... well actually if you go to a web developer you will be told you need the latest bits, bobs and features to make your site cutting edge. Suddenly we are back to expensive again.
But you know it doesn’t have to be like that. 99% of businesses do not need a fancy state of the art website. 90% of developers know little about making money with a website. So I suggest starting with a simple site. Don’t go mad because you will have to make changes.
If you are building an online shop, try a template, if you want an app do the same to start with. Most things have been done and unless you are in software or web development the chances are you can find something similar and have it adapted rather than pay for development from scratch.
KISS – do the KISS test – Keep It Simple Stupid! Pick a launch date and stick to it. Don’t over develop. I know of startup businesses that kept adding to or adjusting websites before launch and never launched. Just get it out there and start. Add features and usability as you go along. The early adopters will not mind if the offer is good enough.
2. Get traffic to that website
I am sure you know that this is a big subject. How do you get traffic to you website as a new business? Well one way is to employ a marketing company. The other is to do it yourself. Do you or one of your team have the time? If so you can get a book like The Results Marketing Workbook and set up multiple marketing systems yourself.
If not then you will need to spend some money: but don’t blow the budget before you have tested and got feedback from the early adopters. Far better to go in slow and see what works. A little at a time. Here you can use a service like CR4L.com offer to drive traffic to your site and move you up the rankings. Get your fist customers and learn.
The key first steps must include: SEO, great content on the site; PR, back links, a blog, guest blogging, video, social media and above all else data catchment...
3. Build a list of prospects
You will see here that data catchment is essential to success. After all, it’s hard enough getting visitors to your website in the first place, so whilst they are there you want to get their data so that you can engage with them. Data catchment is as simple as asking for visitor’s email address in return for a free product or offer.
There are several companies out there that offer data catchment on websites. Personally I use Aweber but Mail Chimp is another option. Your web developer can help you with that and install the widget on your site. If you develop yourself it couldn’t be easier. Just like adding a PayPal purchase button you get some code from the service provider and pop it on the page where you want it. Use Java script so that any changes you make to the widget later will come through to the site automatically without having to change the code.
How do you get people to share their email with you? In the old days that was easy but now people are weary of giving out their email, they wonder what they will get in return. So you need a really great offer, or fantastic news that they will want every week/month from your newsletter.
There are some great new widgets available too; such as from Rafflecopter which allows you to offer your product in a raffle. People enter through the widget and their data goes to your Aweber list (if that’s who you use).
2 negatives with this offer: $59,99 a month and the biggest one; just because someone wants something for free does not mean they will pay for it. However, because it costs you no more to service 10 people as 100 people with automated emails what does that matter?
There are lots more ways to build a list and once again, if you are doing this yourself I suggest referring to something like the Results Marketing Workbook for ideas.
Your list of potential purchasers is gold. Build the list, build relationships and build profits...
4. Build relationships with prospects
#1 Rule – give value first. There aren’t any other rules to speak of; that is the be all and end all of selling to your list. Form the free offer or product they get to join the list to every email they subsequently receive: send them value and lots of it.
That value might be useful information or it may be ideas or ways to make their life better in ways related to your offer. In my case I am a marketer so I give people help marketing their products and businesses. I give as much away as I can so that people get incredible value and can see the quality of what I offer.
The idea is that if you like what I do for free you should try being a client and then you will get amazing value!
5. Get feedback
This is also a time for you to engage with people. Get them to comment on your blog or Facebook page. Get some feedback. Answer questions that are important to your business development. There may be something stopping people from buying from you that the public can see and you can’t. It may be simple and easy to change but make all the difference to your conversions.
6. Sell product
You will know that in sales people buy from people, or more accurately; personalities. People would rather pay more and buy from someone they know and trust than pay less from a stranger. In mass retail people buy from brands that they identify with and associate themselves and their values with.
Think of Apple and Nike. People buy from Apple because that is the kind of people they are, or want to be seen to be. People put on Nike because they are the people who Just Do It!
During the relationship building phase you should have got your message out about who you are; your company’s personality. You should have built trust through giving value first. Then people will be willing to give you a try and buy from you.
Hopefully your prospects are aligned with your company’s ethos and that will make the selling stage all the easier. It will also help you to retain customers.
7. Get feedback – The Second Cup
I am sure that you can see a pattern building here. You will understand how important feedback is. However many companies just move on to the next prospect once someone has bought. Don’t do it! It cost you a lot of effort and money to get that sale. So now you will want to nurture your new customer and reinforce your relationship.
You may ask them what they think of their purchase. Get some ideas of how you can make it and the sales process better. If people buy in to the company in this way and feel involved then you will have a customer for life.
As we used to say at CR4L; Customers are for Life, not just for Christmas.
The Second Cup: There is a wonderful little book by Mark Joiner called The Irresistible Offer. In that he talks about how to build an irresistible offer; an offer so good that people will just have to buy. You get your offer before a thirsty crowd and they will buy, then you sell them the second cup. The Second Cup is where the profit is. This is the ongoing relationship and where a business makes most of its profit.
Getting customers is expensive, keep them and keep selling them more great value.
8. Do more of what works – Turn it up!
You will have seen by now that I preach a system of marketing that uses multiple systems of marketing all working in concert to maximum effect: PR, PPC, SEO, article marketing, blogs, data catchment, social media, video and many more.
You can start with a few key systems and trying a few others such as social media and video. Test and do analytics and monitor closely what results you get. Then drop what is not working and do more of what is. It’s that simple. Don’t keep on putting money in to systems that don’t work; too many people do.
You can see the benefits of continually trying new ideas out. A lot of them will not work so stop them immediately as soon as you see that. If you find one that does work then do more of that.
You probably know that most start-up companies lack marketing skills in their team. As someone once said; having a great product but bad marketing is like making love in the dark: you know what you are doing but no one else does.
So you now have the key 7 Marketing Essentials For Startup Business. You will have seen how important testing is. You know that value first is the best way to build relationships. And you also know that is how I work. So if you need more exposure and clients, call or email me for help and advice; you know that I love giving value to people and if you like what I do for your business maybe you will become my customer for life.
PS. October sees the launch of my Irresistible offer – see what it is at http://www.cr4l.com/special-offer.html
Self Marketers should be using video more than anyone else - it is HUGELY powerful and FREE
Video On Your Website - the statistics...
Whichever way you look at it – Video is a powerful marketing tool. If you are not using video on your website you are missing out. Don't think that it costs money either; just watch my YouTube video to see how to make professional looking videos for NO money...
1. Use a short video clips to move fans from your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites, to your landing page.
a. Make a short video clip with a clear call to action and incentivise their action
2. Plan a mini campaign with a theme – this can be ongoing.
3. Leverage your clips over several media
a. First things first: upload your video to YouTube and optimize it with a URL (in the description), a great title and a clear call to action. Also, consider adding a video overlay that links to your landing page for extra traction. These are basically clickable banner ads.
b. Share your video in a status update on Facebook with a clear call to action. Then you can push additional traffic to it using Promoted Posts (set these up right on your post) and Page Post Ads (which also appear in the right-hand column and can be targeted to non-fans too).
c. Twitter is a platform we don’t associate strongly with video yet. So tweet your YouTube link (along with a link to your opt-in page) and stand out from the crowd!
d. Adding YouTube videos to Pinterest is a great way to spark shares. Whenever someone comes across your pinned video, the PLAY button is featured over the image, so it stands apart from all of the static images around it.
4. Armed with a quarterly strategic plan and premium content (your video, your giveaway, plus all the indirect content that supports both), you can convert fans into quality leads and eventually, loyal customers.
a. And you can continue to do so all year by focusing on new campaigns, themes and content, giving structure (and measurability) to your editorial calendar.
I have just started a mini campaign with the theme of tips on making marketing videos work for your business. Each one will go with a blog post and I will add some short clips to Vine and Instagram for extra coverage.
If you are not sure how to make a short video clip check out my YouTube Channel and this particular video. It shows how I make all my videos. Shot on HD with great looking lighting and background you might think that they cost a lot to make....
...But take a look at this video where I reveal the secret of how I made all my videos with my iPhone and some free software I downloaded. YouTube Link: http://youtu.be/cgSkkSmh4aw
Now it’s your turn... What’s one video tip that should be part of every “mini-campaign”? Share your experience in the comment box below.
Newspaper Advert or Magazine Advert – which is better for your business?
The question that many of our clients have been asking us is whether a magazine advert or a newspaper advert is better for their business?
Well in most cases we say neither.
Local businesses traditionally advertised in local papers and magazines - a lot still do. Perhaps for some tradesmen this still reaps rewards. But for most it is a waste of money.
Magazines are expensive and what do you get? Newspapers are not much better. And do you know what people say when we ask why they advertise there?
Top 2 answers:
Because we always have done
Because our competitors do
Are they rational reasons for spending good money?
Next we ask what returns these adverts provide.
We don't know
At best it’s hard to track results and at worst they are not even trying to see what their return on investment is. They have a budget and they spend it on what they always have done and hope for the best. Again this is not good business practice.
I am sure this is not how you run your marketing but I know from personal experience that when a paper rings up and makes an offer, discounted naturally, it is hard to say no; you decide to just give it a go. I used to until I discovered the systems and techniques that lead me to build Results Marketing.
I started my first business in 1988. Since then I have learnt a lot. The biggest contributing factor to the success of a business is the marketing. That may be location in the high street, or it may be a clever advertising. More increasingly it is a complex strategy involving many different streams of marketing.
These multiple streams all work together to create a continuous flow of new customers to your business. This is what Results Marketing is based on; a system of marketing systems all working together.
I wrote an article in 2009 on the 7 streams of marketing. I said that modern businesses needed to have multiple streams all running at the same time in order to be effective. The Results Marketing Workbook now has around 25 different systems for generating business. Now not all of these will be effective for every business but I recommend choosing a few and starting there.
One of the problems with traditional advertising is that the results and returns can be hard to track. That is why working with these systems is so effective. You get clear results and can see what is working and what is not. You do more of what works and stop the unproductive; replacing it with a different system.
In the past an advert would bring unqualified prospects to your door. Modern marketing techniques and systems qualify the prospect and pre-sell them. That means you don’t waste time selling to people who don’t want to buy, but instead you can spend your time taking orders.
Now more than ever people search online for what they want when they want it. That means that you need to have your business highly visible all the time. 40,000 people may read your newspaper advert but how many are ready to buy now?
When people search online they are ready to buy now. So it is far better to be visible to them than to the newspaper readers and hope that one or two may be in need at that particular moment.
So before you spend hundreds on an advert, try implementing some of the systems and techniques we use to get results. They are tried, tested and trackable. They include social media, local SEO, blogs and content marketing, PPC and many others.
For a sneak preview of the system workbook visit http://www.cr4l.com/self-marketing-download.html
If you want to get a steady stream of new clients and business, that is predisposed to buy from you, then you need Results Marketing.
Home Marketing should take the client right to the purchasing stage; there should be almost or no, need for a sales person – just an order taker.
This is the fundamental difference between someone who comes to your business to buy and someone who comes that you need to sell to. These days people research every purchase online before they even go in to a store or business.
Clients can be, and often are, more informed than sales people. As Seth Godin says in his book “All Marketers are Liars” ; buyer beware “caveat emptor” is now “seller beware” as often the client is more informed about a product than the sales person. There is so much information about our products and services available on the web that it may be impossible to keep fully up to date. None more so than with cars: Clients come to dealers with printouts of web pages that have far more information than a sales person can hope to remember about every model in the range.
This is actually a good thing because they should know just what they want so all the sales person has to do is match that and take the order. Then a good sales person may find a little cross or up-sell to add to the package if that suits the purchaser.
What Story Does Your Marketing Tell About You?
The internet lets people make informed decisions. They can find the best price through comparison websites and they can find the best service through review sites. Then they find their closest dealer with Google.
Businesses can do the same for what they buy. Personally I don’t think that price is as important as service. I would rather pay more to stay in a hotel with a 5 star review than a similar one with only 2 stars. People like to be served and treated well, that has not changed with the web.
So our message as marketers needs to do the job of selling. So that clients are primed and ready to order. You don’t want tire kickers you want order makers. This is where a coordinated effort is essential. Your webpage, all the articles online, the review sites and press statements should all tell the same story.
Get Everyone “On Story”
You need to decide what that story is and be sure it is the same across all media right down to the staff you have. Your staff need to know what the story is so that their actions can tell it too. It used to be about a company mission, and being “on mission”. Things have changed and I think it is more about being “on story”. If you decide you are the caring company and all your media says so, it’s no use having staff who are not on story.
If you are the “technical” people then make sure everyone knows that so they harmonize with all your other efforts. I have seen cases where a receptionist who was not on story with the rest of the team put people off who had been ready to buy. This goes from the CEO all the way to the janitor and the guy who makes the coffee.
This story is then told across all the social media, advertising, webpages, brochures and media that you produce. People need this to set you apart from the competition. There are very few companies who are alone in their niche. Social media allows us to tell our story to get our brand to stand out and convince people to buy before they walk through our door.
This is our job as marketers: target, qualify and pre-sell. Get people hot for our offer so that the sales team just has to write the order up. Happy days
You Are Not in Total Control
We can’t control the story but we can shape it and lead it in directions. Social media and review sites give us the tools to do this. But remember people have preconceived ideas so the same message may be interpreted differently by individuals. People have frames that allow them to chunk data and make rationalisations. In this way they jump to conclusions after ready just a little of our story, or just from our logo or website.
All the more reason to have all our messages working together to tell the same story. Stories sell and if people can identify with our story they will buy from us. The more they align themselves with our brand story the more loyal they will become.
You can see this with brands that come out with new models that sell without promotion. Sometimes they will sell even with bad reviews. Its like going to see “Titanic” because you like Leonardo; you know its 3 hours long and probably overly sentimental rubbish — but you liked him in all his other movies so off you go.
Marketing That Sells So You Don’t Have To
At first websites used to have a lot “About Us” stuff on the landing page. Marketers thought that this was important. Now that is relegated to a back page and we focus on the client and about how they feel. How will this purchase make them feel? What will their life feel like after they own our product?
Don’t focus on the product. The chances are that people can get something similar elsewhere cheaper. Focus on the story. If they buy from you they will be part of your story. What will that mean to them? Think how Nike can sell shoes made in Vietnam in some obscure factory and charge the price that they do. That is because you are putting on a story not just a shoe. People who wear Nike are the sort of people who “Just Do It”. If you are a person who identifies with that story you will buy their shoes above any other similar brand even at a much higher price.
That is why people walk in to stores and ask for and buy Nike. They don’t need selling because the marketing already did that.
I have read a number of books on story selling. Not just selling to the person or public on an individual level but as a company or cooperation.
Seth Godin changed his book title from “All marketers are liars” to “All marketers are storytellers” – and I can see why. He has a great angle on the art of telling a good story in business: If you make it believable, even if it isn’t strictly true, people will believe your story… If they believe your story becomes true.
In politics we are sold stories to sway our vote. “Story telling for financial advisors” is essential reading if you want to sell investments to the public. What better example of using this successfully than the master storyteller himself Warren Buffett. He illustrates his points with great stories so that everyone can understand complex ideas.
So what will your story be? Perhaps it is better to ask “what would you like it to be?” What would you like people to think about your business, product or services? How would you like the story to be told forwards?
If you can think of this you can start to create a story based on the now but with the idea of what the future will bring. In the case of a car stories are told of the feeling of ownership. If you have a Toyota Prius then you are telling everyone that you are a caring person who values the environment. Having a Ford Mustang Shelby you are telling the world a different story.
In both those cases your views or behaviour may not completely match the statement but it is all part of the story you are telling others. If you would like to be like that and aspire to become more environmental or macho; then the car may be part of getting there. However if not it is just a lie that others will see through.
This is the same for the story your business tells. Make it the truth, or what you would like the truth to be, or people will see through the story and you will do harm to your brand.
For some great examples see Seth Godin’s book. One of my favourites is the wine glasses that we are told make the wine taste better. After testing they actually do; but only if we think that they do. If we are not told they have an effect there is no effect. It’s a self fulfilling story, and it works. The same goes for countless restaurants that enhance their average food with the pomp of great service and wonderful ambience.
And the point is that story telling is a great way to get people to buy in and believe. It’s a way to enhance experience and value. It’s also a fantastic way to keep your customers and get new ones.
Notar bene: If you are telling a bad story then this will also be told forwards, and perhaps more often. This also applies to restaurants; good food can be overshadowed by the poor service or dirty bathrooms. Be sure your whole business is “on story”. Consistency is key and to get that everyone needs to have their story straight. So it’s better to plan it in advance. Write it out and give all concerned a copy.
Once you have a story to tell there are so many places to go out and tell it… I can hardly begin to list them. Your own business or industry will have specific publications and places. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are also key and the biggest way to tell everyone your story.
Make sure your story leads your niche. If you are in an area (geographical or industrial) a story can pull you way ahead in local SEO – which I am a big advocate of. It’s also an excuse to talk to people, to engage and post on blogs and sites all over the web.
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