Anyone that remembers the days of card catalogs and microfiche knows how monumentally the internet has changed how we conduct research. But for those less academically inclined, i.e. anyone in the real world, the internet has fundamentally altered how we research buying things, from refrigerators to furniture, which means it has affected the sales process, too.
The new age of marketing
Maybe it’s time to bid Willy Loman farewell. But doesn’t this just mean that your customers are happier with the pushy salespeople out of the picture? Well sure, but clients still have questions, and you still want them to buy your product. So how does that work without a traditional salesperson tooting your company’s horn?
Today content is critical for B2B marketing and for capturing customers early in the buying process. Why? Because your clients are scoping you out before you even know they are interested, which means you have to impress them while they are conducting their online research.
What clients want
In the past, a salesperson would inform potential customers why your company was the best widget maker around—how you anticipated trends, how you could meet their needs and how your work/employees/products were the best in the biz. Now, a potential client simply goes to Google and starts to poke around to determine the answers to those things without your ever knowing you are being investigated.
Instead of a salesperson interacting with clients, your content has to do the selling in today’s business environment. You can promote your content online via paid, owned or earned tactics. The goal is a balance of the three—too much paid content comes across as an ad, which strikes most people as inauthentic and derivative of the pushy salesperson.
Owning and earning it
The key then is a good balance of effective owned and earned content. Your owned content should really mesh with what your customer’s journey is, addressing relevant questions they may have on your site, blog or social media links. Your information should be easy to find and easy to understand. If they have to hunt for it, clients will get turned off. Google surveyed B2B consumers and found that “89% of B2B researchers use the internet during the B2B research process.” You want to appeal to that 89 percent, not repel them.
When it comes to earned content, you still have to put the marketing work in to generate any word of mouth. Except now you aren’t only reaching out to traditional media outlets such as magazines hoping for a mention in an article, you also want bloggers to mention you and others to post positive messages about you on social media. The playing field has expanded.
The content you create today to entice potential customers needs to be nimble, consistent and informative, whether it is paid, owned or earned. Accomplish that and no one will have to lament your demise on the stage.