This post is for marketing people preparing to kick off their 2019 marketing strategy.
You’ve got next year’s targets for attracting leads and building your firm’s sales pipeline. But how confident are you in meeting your goals?
Here are seven proven tactics to help you succeed in a market full of firms offering comparable expertise, services and products.
These tactics help you stand out from your competitors by highlighting the value of your offering in the context of your buyers’ problem or goal. They also help you create and build client relationships by sharing valuable information.
Sharing insights that help customers settle on a solution engages your firm at an earlier stage of the buying process. And it puts your firm in a stronger position for when buyers are ready to choose their supplier.
To determine which of these tactics would work best for you, skim through their list of benefits below. They highlight how each approach can improve the success of your strategy and why they’re important to your business.
Tactic #1: Persuade prospects by pinpointing your unique benefits
When a customer asks why they should buy your solution instead of your competitors, how persuasive is your reply?
Responses like “we’re better quality” or “passionate about what we do” are ineffective because they are difficult to prove. Listing your product features or services is similarly ineffective. Because you’re making prospects do the work of figuring out why they might want them.
Whether you’re a sole trader or big corporation, your sales and marketing activities will be far more effective when you can explain:
• Who your ideal customers are;
• The unique value and benefits you provide your customers (which they won’t get from your competitors);
• A compelling reason for them to believe you.
The jargon term for this is brand positioning. And it’s simply your organisation’s internal choice about what you want to stand for in your customer’s mind. The flip side – your image – is your customer’s actual impression of your business.
Your goal is to get your customer to associate something unique and desirable with your brand.
The benefits of pinpointing your unique value include:
• Giving you a competitive edge… by highlighting what makes you better than your competitors;
• Boosting the effectiveness of sales engagements… by identifying for your sales team exactly what to emphasise about your products and services, and why;
• Identifying weaknesses in your current strategy… and paving the way for a targeted improvement in your approach;
• Highlighting new opportunities for future growth… whether that’s market expansion or new product development;
• Building customer recognition… customers are more likely to choose a brand they recognise in a crowded market;
• Supporting high customer retention… a strong brand that customers recognise and share values with encourages loyalty;
• Making new products easier and less expensive to introduce… where you have loyal customers following a strong brand;
• Attracting a talented workforce… and helping you retain the best employees.
Tactic #2: Profile customers to learn what they value and how they buy
Imagine how effective your sales and marketing activities would be if you knew who your ideal customer was, what motivates them, and what they value.
You can capture this by compiling a profile or a sketch of a key customer segment for your business. Focus on their questions, motivations and behaviours.
In marketing circles, this is called a Customer Persona or Buyer Persona.
Alongside developing a profile for your key customers, you should identify the process they go through to buy from you. Marketers refer to this as the Customer Buying Process or Buyer’s Journey.
It starts with the buyer realising they have a problem (Awareness Stage), evaluating different solutions (Consideration Stage), and finally choosing the product or service that offers the best solution (Decision Stage).
Profiling your customers and understanding how they buy from you will lead to a more effective sales process and marketing plan.
The benefits of profiling your customers and understanding how they buy from you include:
• Increasing the effectiveness of your sales pitches and marketing content… by refining customer segmentation and tailoring your pitches to a prospect’s needs and interests;
• Identifying how and why a prospect decides to buy from you… and why they choose not to;
• Revealing demand for new or improved versions of your products and services… based on insights about customers’ needs and interests;
• Engaging with decision-makers… by identifying how your customers make purchasing decisions, including the key people involved that need to be influenced;
• Stopping you from talking about yourself… Instead of leading with “Our product, our unique process etc” these will get you to frame your approach from your customer’s perspective.
Tactic 3. Present your perspective on a topic of interest to engage new clients
Are you struggling to get your business in front of potential customers or client organisations?
Offering to present your perspective on a topic of interest is a great way to open the door to new clients. And boost engagement with existing ones.
Even well-resourced companies want other industry views on key topics to compare with, and validate, their own.
This strategy also works well with influencer organisations. That is, those who are not target customers, but who are potential promoters of your brand, and with whom you can explore ideas.
Meetings can be done via a webinar. However, presenting in-person works even better.
Use your Presentation slides to prime the conversation in the Q&A. These meetings provide a natural way to follow up and develop engagement further.
The benefits of presenting your perspective on a topic of interest include:
• Attracting an audience you wish to engage with… by offering valuable information that your target customers are actively searching for;
• Building trust with your customers and prospects… by addressing their problems and providing answers to their questions without trying to sell;
• Positioning you as an authority in your field… by demonstrating a deeper level of expertise on a subject matter;
• Pooling valuable insights on topics of interest to customers… initially within your own company, and then from Q&A sessions following the presentations;
• Giving your target customers a voice… they can express opinions, ask and answer questions, and more;
• Communicating (via webinars) with target customers located anywhere in the world… though webinars miss the valuable engagement of an in-person meeting.
Tactic #4: Attract and convert prospects with a blog they find valuable
Wouldn’t you rather your prospects went to your company’s blog for information, rather than to your competitor’s site?
Don’t be put off if a competitor in your niche has an established blog. Nor worry that your prospects may not be avid blog readers.
Everyone uses Google to find answers and information. And your prospects will definitely visit your blog to read a post with information they’re looking for.
The business goal behind a blog is to build an audience and influence their decision to buy from you.
For success, demonstrating authority is key. That doesn’t mean needlessly showing off your expertise. Rather, it means sharing your knowledge and expertise with your prospects and customers for their benefit.
A business blog is an effective way to do this: demonstrating your expertise and authority by publishing content your audience finds valuable.
What sets a blog apart from other content on your website, is that blogs are updated frequently, and allow for readers to comment and have a discussion.
The benefits of a blog include:
• Making your business more personal… because people buy from people… and a blog is a great way for you to give your business a personality, and share the passion you have for what you do;
• Getting a response from early prospects… by using your blog posts as the additional value behind your outreach or connection requests;
• Exposing your business to a new audience… if readers like what you post a single click will share it with everyone they know on social media – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc.;
• Driving traffic to your website with higher visibility in search engines… search engines love unique and quality blog content with a strong focus on authority (as Google defines it);
• Helping convert website traffic into relevant and qualified leads… by adding a lead-generating Call To Action to blog posts;
• Building trust with your audience… when your blog visitors read and learn from your content, they will start to trust your brand;
• Building authority within your industry… Informative blog posts will help you become a go-to resource – key for gaining credibility and competing with bigger businesses;
• Building loyalty with existing customers… by enriching the customer experience beyond the minimum, you extend the entire future relationship with that customer (and its financial value to your business);
• Gaining valuable insight on the views and interests of your audience… by reviewing analytics and comments on your blog;
• Creating a rapport with your audience… by responding to their comments;
• Giving a visitor to your site a reason to come back… perhaps multiple times in a week to read your regularly-updated blog.
Tactic #5: Increase leads and influence prospects with a strong White Paper
Have you got something complex, expensive or relatively new that needs explaining to a prospect?
White Papers not only lure prospects but are sought-after because they help the target reader make an informed decision.
A White Paper is a persuasive, educational report that usually describes a real business problem and how to solve it. They are more akin to journalism, using facts and logic to build a case.
However, while giving a balanced view on a problem or topic, they usually promote a specific solution. And subtly imply your business has expertise in this area.
Different types of White Paper can be used to address different marketing challenges. Alongside a problem/solution format, White Papers can take a detailed look at the features and business benefits of a product or service. A third type is a numbered list of tips or points about a particular issue.
Pair your White Paper with a dedicated landing page on your website that encourages visitors to download it.
The benefits of a White Paper include:
• Generating leads at the top of the sales funnel… by helping a buyer understand an issue or solve a problem;
• Engaging and nurturing prospects in the middle of the funnel… by keeping them interested with relevant information during a long decision-making process;
• Helping prospects justify a purchase decision… by identifying the business advantages of a specific solution;
• Making your own salesforce more effective… by providing the powerful arguments and proof points needed to influence and persuade prospects;
• Providing a useful “leave-behind” after a presentation or client meeting… and a good excuse for a future follow up in order to “hear their thoughts”;
• Increasing the credibility of your company, product or service… by showcasing your expertise and establishing you as an authority in your field;
• Growing your marketing email list… By capturing email signups for visitors keen to download your White Paper;
• Building your social media presence… by giving your website visitors something interesting to share.
Tactic #6: Prove your value with real-life examples of your success
Have you ever been influenced by positive reviews about a product you want to buy on Amazon?
In the B2B world, the equivalent validation of your products and services is known as a Case Study, Customer Story or Success Story.
It gives your prospects the confidence they need to buy from you by taking them on a journey through the use of your product or service – from the customer’s perspective.
As a direct endorsement from a satisfied customer, they provide proof that your claims are true. And they help your prospects envision how your offering would benefit them.
The benefits of real-life examples of your success include:
• Helping close more sales… by demonstrating how other businesses have benefited from your product or service;
• Reducing uncertainty for prospects… by providing them with an in-depth look at what it’s like working with your product or service;
• Driving traffic to your website with higher visibility in search engines… since Case Studies use keywords for a solution to the problem your prospects are searching for;
• Increasing the credibility of your company, product or service… by showcasing your expertise and experience in your industry;
• Improving a prospect’s understanding of a complex business issue and its solution… by providing an example to illustrate;
Tactic #7: Boost your profile and build authority with a targeted article
Which do you think influences senior executives more: a popular post on your company’s social media channel or an article on the same topic published in a magazine or online journal?
A placed article in the media can quickly raise the profile of your company, brand or products and boost your credibility.
Pitch an article idea to editors of publications your prospects read. This might be traditional media (trade journals, newspapers, magazines) or new media (popular blogs).
To be effective, the article should be written journalistically. In other words: tell a memorable story using verified facts and logic to build a case.
You don’t have to have some news to get published. Many media outlets accept articles that add a different perspective or expertise on a relevant topic.
The article itself can be ghost written on behalf of a member of your company. It should not overtly promote your company.
The benefits of placing an article in the media include:
• Exposing your business to a new audience;
• Increasing the credibility of your company, product or service… by demonstrating your expertise;
• Getting a response from prospects… by sharing a reprint of the article as the additional value behind your outreach or connection requests;
• Providing a good excuse for a future follow up… in order to “hear their thoughts”;
• Building trust with your audience… since your content is an article commissioned by an editor not linked to your company, its readers will start to trust your brand;
• Building authority within your industry… by drawing attention to issues important to your industry, that your company has expertise in or provides a solution for;
• Promoting your business with your article byline and bio… which can often include information about your company and contact details;
• Creating a rapport with your audience… by responding to comments for articles published online;
• Grabbing media attention… even where your company or product doesn’t have star power.
All of these tactics can be used to support your existing marketing strategy. Use their listed benefits to highlight which ones would tackle your firm’s biggest obstacles to growth.
For new content ideas, to help with overflow work or to give a fresh eye to a writing project, please get in touch.