I recently was contacted by an international prospect that found my business through content online via the search engines. During our conversation this international business owner said, “she read my articles, downloaded my ebook, my approach really reasoned with her, and she knew that I could help her organization and would like to explore ways to make this happen.”
This very scenario signals the change in the buying process for B2B marketers and business owners.
“Marketing and sales has changed because buying has changed.”
Today’s buyers are invisible until they’re ready to purchase. They don’t call up a company and ask for a brochure or wait for a salesperson to come calling. Today’s buyer does their homework online, asks their network for suggestions and essentially creates their own brochure.
Much of what you have to do to attract and be found by that buyer is call inbound marketing and inbound sales and it applies across the business in audience development, sales and even service.
Marketing Teachable Moment: What is Inbound?
Sharing is caring and inbound is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your ideal customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.
That buyer is constantly invisible and for business owners to sell to them they must employ what’s now become the foundational sales and marketing tactics that will carry a company’s marketing efforts into the next decade:
Content is the new branding it’s how invisible buyers come to know, like and trust you and your firm. The goal of content marketing is consumption, then behavior. Education, then decision.
Business owners and b2b marketers must publish content that focuses on the problems and desires of their prospect and customer. Healing prospects and customers true pain points with content (okay, a bit over the top, but true none the less).
Teaching vs Selling
You need to tell stories, share examples of other people’s success and start to paint a picture of how you can solve the customer’s problem. I feel with this approach, the trust barrier is removed. It’s a great way for other people to relate to you as someone who delivers value, without the exchange of money.
Some of the best ways to attract people to you is to teach through workshops, seminars or articles.When you develop a reputation for being someone who can teach people, then you get invited to places where you have the opportunity to sell.
P.S. Good blogging is a form of teaching.
Building a Platform
This is the final piece to the puzzle.This content must be located on a digital property you own and control. It is where your suspects, prospects, customers, and advocates come together. It can be as simple as a:
- weekly podcast,
- quarterly magazine,
- monthly newsletter,
- TV show,
- daily blog or
- as complex as a self-hosted community.
No matter what it is, it’s where you direct all internet traffic. Why? Because this is the place where you can best sell your ideas, services or products. You control the microphone and determine who has backstage access.
Any organization, from solopreneur to marketing and sales department, that is not focused on guiding a customer journey through content and personal connection is bound to be left behind in the buyer driven environment we live in today.