Recently I attended a business networking event and I witnessed firsthand a real “power networker” named David. He was the kind of guy that was a networking machine and he worked the room like never seen before handing out collateral and business cards left and right.
It was amazing what David was doing. So much that in fact, he was the talk of the room.
The real problem was that the conversations around David were even close to flattering. In less than an hour, David managed to become the most annoying person at the event.
Why Should I Care?
Well, what do you think happened to all the material David passed out? Would you say that he has a good a chance of picking up new business from his interactions? Not likely. You see, the small talk that David had with each person had nothing to do with trying to understand the problems or challenges faced by the person he was talking to?
While his intentions were probably good, David appeared to only be interested in one thing: setting a record for passing out as much stuff as possible. After all, sales is just a numbers game, right?
Sales is not the same today. We need to shift our thinking that we need to interrupt people with your commercials and messages. In reality, the best way to attract new clients today is by creating meaningful content that will help solve a problem.
Jay Bear’s book, Youtility, says it right. Smart marketing is about HELP not HYPE.
Your Best Prospects Are Invisible
According to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), almost 60% of the buyer journey is complete before prospects contact potential vendors.
So Who Are These Customers Then?
Nearly 60% of the buyer journey is completed even before they call you according to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB).
You might remember when people began their buyer’s journey by calling you or stopping into the shop. They wanted to talk to a real person, better known as establishing trust and building rapport.
So let me ask you, whens the last time you looked in a phone book to find a number to a resturant or called Best Buy to talk to you about all the different Plasma TV’s?
Are you with me? The old days are over and today people like you and me begin our research online.
This is a good thing right? It absolutely is a revenue generator for businesses that get it right. Because we know that the buyer’s journey starts by researching online, they have 60% of their homework done before we ever talk to them. BUT there are two things you need to win.
First, you need to show up where your customers are and second you need to help guide them along in their buying process. If we pass their sniff test, ONLY THEN do we get the opportunity to speak with them.
Content is King. Impact is Everything.
Content marketing is the latest buzz next to social media. My fear is that many will miss the point and just create a bunch of meaningless content that will just further clutter the search results. If the content you produce doesn’t help build relationships with people then you have a problem with impact.
Don’t get me wrong, content marketing has one purpose and that is attracting buyers.
Haven’t heard of content marketing before?
It is the process of creating content that solves the problem or answers the questions that your customers are looking for online. Anyone can write a meaningless book, article, or marketing brochure but creating content that makes an impact strengthens your brand and expands your reach like none other. If this is something that you are not currently doing then your competitors who are doing this are taking from your profits.
The only way to be successful with your content is by thinking like your customer who is in the buying cycle and meeting them where they are and there are 3 phases to attracting buyers with content.
3 Part Sales Funnel Using Content Marketing
For this example I want you to imagine the sales process as a funnel. The top of the funnel is at the beginning of the buyers journey and the bottom of the funnel is a person ready to buy.
- Phase 1 (Top of the funnel): Drive interest and awareness with potential buyers.
- Phase 2 (Middle of the funnel): Engage with customers by answering questions on what your product or service is and how much it is.
- Phase 3 (Bottom of the funnel): This is where you take them buy the hand and get into the nitty gritty with all of the most common questions asked in conjunction with the buying process.
Does Content Marketing Really Work?
Paid advertising still works if you have an unlimited budget and don’t need to watch expenses but from my experience working with businesses that’s not the case anymore.
Interrupting buyers from whatever they’re leaves a bad taste. Think cold calling. Who likes to get those calls or should I say who likes making them?
The goal of content marketing is simple…attract people that are already searching for a solution to their problems. Doesn’t that make more sense?
Shifting Your Mindset To Content
It’s not easy shifting from “how can we sell them” to “how can we help them” but it does work with a little effort. People do business with people and they don’t like being sold to. Your best sales person should be able to tell you that and if they don’t, survey your customers.
If you trying selling (like David) you will push people away but if you genuinely try to help them, not only will you become more trusted, they will be a loyal and spread the word for you.
If you still aren’t convinced maybe this article from the B to B Magazine will help: Content Marketing is one of the top priorities for marketing in 2014.
Still uncertain? Here’s some more statistics:
- 93% of B2B Marketers are using content marketing (Content Marketing Institute / Marketing Profs Study)
- 42% of B2B marketers rate their content marketing efforts as effective (Content Marketing Institute / Marketing Profs Study)
- Only 44% of B2B Marketers have a documented content strategy (Content Marketing Institute / Marketing Profs Study)
- 73% of B2B Marketers have someone in charge of content marketing strategy. (Content Marketing Institute / Marketing Profs Study)
2 Steps To Get Started With Content Marketing
1. Find out what your customers are interested in
Simply talk to your existing customers and ask them why they did business with you in the first place, for example. Get some key ideas or phrases from them, not what you think.
2. Create helpful advice and answers around the questions your potential customers are asking
There are many ways to create helpful content. It can be a blog post, article, podcast, infographic, or even a video.
What I suggest is identify your buyer persona and meet them where they are today. Don’t get confused or overwhelmed that you need to do everything. Just start somewhere and build on it.
Want to Learn More?
I know that this can be overwhelming and different than what you’re used to doing in your business. There are hundreds of additional details, tips, tricks, and best practices to becoming a successful content marketer. I’ve included some additional resources to check out:
If you are struggling or need any help with creating content, we have a ton of resources that will help you get started. Please subscribe to this blog to make sure you don’t miss an article.