In the golden age of sales (if there ever was a thing), marketing took a seat behind the back seat in most organizations. At best, marketing was considered the department tasked with creating beautiful advertisements and collateral, supporting trade show activities and organizing the office softball team’s shirt design.
In today’s consumer-driven marketplace, it doesn’t serve any organization well to keep marketing out of strategic discussions. In fact, there are several reasons why your business is almost required to bring marketing efforts into the conversations that stand to impact revenue and influence long-lasting customer relationships.
Old school salespeople who used to sit back and wait for business to come to them, or those accustomed to making cold calls and using high-pressure tactics are likely to be struggling a bit these days, and the reason is this: potential buyers want to be educated and influenced, not sold.
Even though the end goal is the same (closing a sale) the way to get there in today’s environment has changed and even the sales teams of today aren’t arguing that point. According to HubSpot, an inbound marketing tool, 57% of salespeople believe buyers are less dependent on salespeople during the buying process. If this is true, then what is the basis for buyers’ decisions today?
It’s About the Conversation First, Not the Sale
At Big Red SEO, we would go so far as to say your business should be a marketing-first, rather than a sales-first organization. Here’s why.
Buyers today are in a position to say, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”
In other words, when they are ready to purchase something, they have the resources at their disposal to educate themselves, connect with communities of others willing to share recommendations and opinions and then make a purchasing decision.
We’ve already talked about buyers wanting not to be sold to, but rather influenced. That’s really the crux of the matter. Buyers have many places where they can go to find information about products or services they want or need. Intrusive telemarketing calls, unsolicited visits from salespeople or hard-sell tactics that once worked are no longer kosher with the new, enlightened and perpetually online consumer.
Today’s buyers need to be influenced positively by your brand and the products you sell long before they ever intend to purchase. In a marketing-first organization, time is allowed to get to know the potential buyer, research and understand their needs and what is required to move the prospect through the buyer’s’ journey from discovery to delight.
When the buyer is ready to purchase, the marketing efforts exerted should all lead to having your product or service top-of-mind.
How to Influence Buyers through Marketing-First Tactics
You have probably heard the phrase “content is king,” and as cliche as that sounds, it is true in marketing-first organizations. Through carefully planned content strategies, potential buyers become acquainted with and influenced by your brand.
Blogs filled with long-tail keywords and topics designed to attract the attention at a critical stage of the buyer’s’ journey is one way. Other online contents including videos, testimonials, case studies, demonstrations, and other tactics serve to influence customers at the point where they are open to hearing it. Here’s an example:
Imagine you were out looking at barbecue recipes on the internet. The last thing you’d want to receive is a phone call from a high-end barbecue grill salesman trying to talk you into buying a new barbecue (a sales-first mindset).
Instead, you’d be far more likely to have a positive perception of that barbecue grill company if they instead started filtering you additional recipes you might like based on what you were researching, followed by some targeted content about the benefits of outdoor cooking and tips for preparing grilled foods. Some compelling video footage of customers cooking delicious foods on your grill with testimonials from satisfied customers might come next. Eventually, a form or coupon is served up to help nudge a potential future purchase.
Granted, that’s a lot more work and requires detailed, thoughtful strategy as compared to picking up the phone and trying to talk someone into buying a barbecue. It’s also a lot more likely to result in a long-term satisfied customer who then becomes a champion of your brand or business for the long-term.
Marketing-First Focus Doesn’t End After the Sale
Another subtle but important detail in marketing-first organizations is the fact that the relationship doesn’t end once the sale is made.
The goal is to have an ongoing relationship or conversation with the customer that results in recommendations to others, repeat purchases and current grassroots promotion for your product, service or business.
This can and does include attentiveness to customer satisfaction, service recovery and everything else that goes along with being a responsive, marketing-first organization.
Marketing and Sales Collaboration is Essential
Just because we are proposing marketing-first organizations doesn’t mean marketing-only. Sustaining an ongoing customer relationship is best accomplished through close collaboration between sales and marketing and every other integral department that touches the customer experience. With all teams working collaboratively, customers are more likely to have a higher sense of brand recall.
Why? Because teams have interactions with potential buyers and customers at different stages of the buyer’s journey. Therefore, it’s essential that content, messaging, tone and approach is consistent. The way the buyer is treated at the top of the funnel should be very similar to their bottom-of-the-funnel experience. This can only happen when marketing and sales (and the entire organization) stay closely aligned.
In an interview with CMO.com, Marketo’s Chris Connell stated that “Eighty-nine percent of CMOs expect to be responsible for customer experience by 2020.” This is notable since many companies have yet to empower marketing departments to collaborate with other entities to deliver the best customer experience possible.
“Today, the marketing team is directly connected to the customer like never before, and with an increasing focus on the middle and bottom of the funnel where the sales team play, but then on through acquisition to the full customer lifecycle,” he said. At Big Red SEO, we tend to agree.
Would You Like to Know More About Marketing-First Strategies for Your Organization?
Big Red SEO can help your business develop content and strategies to influence customers along the buyers’ journey with your organization.
Look us up and let’s talk. Better yet, stop by our office in Omaha, Nebraska if you’re in the area. If you’re not local, let’s connect via Skype or Zoom.
We are in tune and responsive to where our customers are so you can be in tune and responsive to yours!