Today let’s talk from a marketer’s point of view. (Disclosure: since I represent sales, not marketing, this is my interpretation of what a marketer would say.) Actually anyone in professional selling has some marketing characteristics - there is no longer separate ground, but lots of interwoven strategies between marketing and sales to work with the new buyer. It will all tie into sales shortly.
At the front end of the pipeline, from a marketing standpoint there are 3 ideas for activities you may not be focused on which will help your market niche to find you, thus “filling” the funnel. Today’s funnel is looking more like a cloud or other shape. Whatever the shape, your company needs to attract enough potential customers your direction to cause any selling to happen.
1. Focus on your website. Most marketers and sellers will agree that your company website is the hub location from where everything else spins off of. Your own company website is free of competitive ads (unlike Facebook) and other ways to distract your valued audience.
Make it easy for a buyer to find you and to understand what it is that you offer within your niche. Also make it easy for you by knowing who is coming to your site, where they are coming from, and what part of your site they are attracted to. Have a valuable offer they can obtain by trading their very basic info (name and email address) in exchange for it. This data needs to populate into your CRM system and it is the beginning of hopefully a wonderful relationship.
2. Blogging Rules. Keeping your site relevant and sharing content that helps your market niche can be done through blogging better than any other activity because this content can be repurposed (book, e-book) and some of it can be curated elsewhere (know the ins and outs of doing that before you do). Keep it simple, clean, and helpful.
The Content Marketing Institute (2012) said that “60% of B2B marketers plan to spend more on content marketing in the next 12 months”.
3. Hold Live or Virtual Events. More remote (and cost conscious) companies tend to embrace virtual events, and companies that still have big travel budgets go for in person, live events. There really is no substitution for a “live” handshake and eye-to-eye conversation, although a number of virtual event services providers are trying to sway me on this belief of mine. My old boss, Clarence P. Waters, from Oklahoma, called it “belly to belly selling” – and I have to say, in my early 20’s it made a big impression on me. Realistically, the majority of events are now conducted on the web. Virtual events are easy to plan in advance, and this content can be repurposed as well -- into blog posts, transcripts, or placed in a private, client-only area.
Each example above creates content, and this is what marketers (and sellers) are focusing on building up. No matter the method, find ways to capture data on who is reading, participating in, and interacting with your website, your blogging efforts, and your events.
The next step we’ll talk about is in amplifying your message to broaden your reach.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for tips and strategies in selling.