Reputation & Referrals…
Fortunately, many of the measures required to compete in this hybrid online-offline environment can be automated, at least to a large degree.
They still must be guided by a human touch,however. And they need to be coordinated to ensure they all convey the Unique Value Message of your business – your key differentiator – that will permit you to raise your prices rather than lower them. And to do so knowing you won’t risk losing business by doing so.
Integrated Marketing & Sales
To dominate your competition in this more complex environment, you’ll need a comprehensive marketing and sales system to…
- Automate your sales processes to reactivate your lost customers,
- Follow-up better with your prospects to convert them to customers,
- Take charge of your online presence and reputation and market it effectively, and
- Build a company-wide referral culture in which everyone’s-a-marketer.
Inherent in each of these is the increasing integration of marketing and sales that they require for maximum benefit. Because so much more of the buying process now occurs online – especially researching and comparing products and services and their suppliers – traditional sales activities need to respect and cultivate the longer lead cycle this often entails.
And marketing systems need now to better track and convert prospects to customers – nurturing them from cold leads to warm prospects to ready-to-buy prospects in an automated and educational manner.
Building Trust First
A cornerstone of sales and marketing in this new online-offline hybrid marketplace is recognizing the well-worn adage that…
“People don’t like being sold to, but they love to buy”.
And they buy from those they’ve come to like and trust – often after learning from them through some kind of education-oriented marketing campaign.
And while social media hasn’t yet caught up with email and search for online selling, it’s the only one of the three in which conversion rates are actually increasing. And nowhere is overt selling more frowned upon than on social media (of course, it’s unwelcome in email and search, as well).
Which means the old-fashioned hard sell is yesterday’s news. Those who insist on hard sell tactics are destined to become the Willy Loman of the digital age.
Share Your Knowledge…Sooner
But that doesn’t mean you have to give up selling. You just have to do it differently – recognizing the changing landscape that demands more pre-sale trust-building as an educator and guide for prospects seeking to become better informed before making purchase decisions.
It may demand more of your business – and mean you’ll need to learn a few new tactics and techniques, or farm them out to those who know them already.
But at its core – technology platforms aside – the underlying dynamic becomes one of freely sharing some of your knowledge and expertise to help your customers and prospects make better purchase decisions.
And you’re more likely to succeed if you can keep the sales pitches to a minimum – sprinkled strategically and only occasionally among your ongoing automated educational series.
We’re obviously not talking about giving away any trade secrets, but sharing more general industry, product or service information than you may have in the past.
If you think of the traditional product showroom and realize that fewer prospects land in showrooms now because they only visit, on average, a single showroom today vs. the multiples of the past – all because they’ve narrowed down their choices before ever setting foot in a showroom.
The corollary to this marketplace reality is that – to remain competitive – you need to move much of the pre-sale information sharing once reserved for the showroom online so your prospects find it when they’re doing their early research for products and/or services like those you offer.
You “gotta’ do what you gotta’ do” if you hope to grow your profits and your business.
Because – as Apple’s former chief evangelist Guy Kawasaki has said,
“There are two types of businesses: those who are winning new customers, and those who are dying.”
Are YOU Dying…
to Grow Your Profits?
Despite Mr. Kawasaki’s emphasis on “winning new customers”, Apple owes most of its phenomenal success to its loyal following of existing customers. So the take-home message here isn’t so much the words attributed to this Apple evangelist, but the example set by his former employer.
And you can bet Apple didn’t just stumble onto its marketing successes. They set a course from the outset – a different course from their predecessors and competitors. They defined what made them unique and they marketed that to the hilt – not just in their advertising, but in their entire corporate ethos.
And most businesses still haven’t caught up with our digital economy in their advertising – overspending on traditional media and under-investing in digital media, at least given their respective share of advertising eyeballs.
It still will play a role, of course, but the emphasis now is shifting from advertising your products and services to advertising your free informational content -trading its function from securing sales to securing prospects who opt-in to receive your free, and high-quality, information so you can further educate and market to them over time.
Inherent in this shift is an acceptance of longer pre-sales cycles and the need for business to get in front of their competitors by being proactive in gaining visibility early in the pre-sales cycle.
Doing so effectively requires a combination of activities, much as it does offline. You probably haven’t limited yourself to only one marketing tactic or venue for your business in the past. And in similar fashion, you’ll need a variety of weapons in your online marketing arsenal – especially those highlighted at the start of this article.
Reactivation, Reputation, & Referrals
Reactivating your past customers will probably produce the best and most immediate bang for your buck, while upgrading your reputation and marketing it more aggressively is essential for future sales.
It won’t do much good, after all, if more people can find you online, but are greeted with embarrassing one and two-star customer reviews when they find you…especially if your competitors are right nearby with four and five-star reviews. There’s a lot of wasted ad and seo spend these days because of this very phenomenon.
All of these activities will be optimized to the extent you’re able to build an employee culture in which everyone’s-a-marketer determined to Wow! your customers and prospects with over-the-top service – and proactively ask for referrals from your delighted customers.
Referrals are obviously your highest-value customers – they spend more, buy faster, and are more likely to refer you even more business. Building such a referral business is the holy grail of business – I know because my business was 100% referrals – and the good news is it’s more possible to achieve today once you end the confusion about how best to market your business online.
The articles that follow in this section of PeakProfitsAdvisors.com will help you overcome any such confusion you may have and embrace the measures most proven to produce the legion of loyal customers and advocates for your business that will secure and sustain its ultimate success.
For more on revenue generation,
see these posts on sales and marketing.
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