Inbound Marketing Strategies to Replace Traditional Cold Calling and Advertising
Many salespeople have been critical of cold calling as a sales strategy for several decades. At the same time, marketing departments have been struggling with how to use traditional advertising techniques to reach current and potential customers.
It turns out that customers have always preferred being in charge of the sales process. Cold calls and ads were probably doomed to failure from the very beginning. But for at least 50 years, many marketing and sales managers seemed dedicated to these losing sales strategies.
For the time being, the successful replacement is commonly referred to as inbound marketing. In simplest terms, this involves providing educational content for potential customers. This is a customer-centric sales process rather than a marketer-centric process.
Educational Content for Inbound Marketing Success: 5 Strategies
For businesses and organizations of all sizes, the concept of inbound marketing is emerging as the successor to traditional sales and marketing techniques. Discerning consumers have largely dictated this outcome by rejecting old-fashioned cold calling and advertising campaigns. Today’s internet-savvy customers have increasingly made it clear that they are seeking high-quality educational content when making buying decisions rather than a controlled sales process that routinely withholds key information.
The challenge for C-Level executives and business owners is to deliver educational content that meets the high expectations of potential buyers for products and services. Here are five primary examples of content that can frequently satisfy both potential and current customers when the content is produced with a sufficient amount of attention to quality and relevant information:
- Case studies — to demonstrate how you solved a specific problem for a specific customer.
- Extended articles (including blog articles) — the inbound marketing focus means little or no promotion while concentrating on helpful information.
- SlideShare and YouTube presentations — a slide or video presentation is preferred by many potential buyers during the evaluating and purchasing process.
- Press releases — not just any news release will do: the customer-centric focus is on concise, non-promotional and informative content.
- White papers — a longer treatment designed for niche audiences that already understand the basics of a product or service.
If you want more details about case studies, extended articles, white papers, press releases and specialized business writing:
1 — How to Educate Your Customers Using Case Studies
2 — The Art and Science of Writing Business News Releases
3 — SlideShare presentation at the bottom of this page: Preventing Zombie Business Problems
4 — YouTube video shown below: Case Studies
Respecting Your Customer’s Time
Just like patients never enjoy spending excessive time in a doctor’s waiting room, customers want their time to be well-spent when reviewing educational content in any form — from extended articles to case studies, slide presentations, press releases and white papers. Time is always part of the equation when first-time visitors review educational content. Depending on first impressions, some potential buyers will leave the page or presentation within 30 seconds or less.
One of the most important factors in influencing how long internet visitors stay in the same place is the perception of high-quality content. As you might expect, low-quality content produced by the low bidder on a crowdsourcing site is not likely to be part of a winning content strategy. To keep your visitors engaged enough to make a favorable buying decision, high-quality educational content is routinely the common denominator.
But high-quality content and your customer’s time can also get in the way of each other. Very few consumers have an unlimited time budget — so don’t overlook the value of being concise. For example, a thoughtful 10-slide presentation will often succeed where a 25-slide approach falls short. In a similar vein, a 3000-word white paper might not be the “smart move” when a 750-word article can make a similar point much more efficiently. As another compelling illustration of how brevity can be remarkably effective, a one-page proposal often “works” better than longer business proposals.
The lesson to remember — longer is not always better, even when the expanded version represents the highest possible quality.
Copyright © 2017, Stephen Bush. All rights reserved. AEX Commercial Financing Group
Stephen Bush is the CEO of AEX Commercial Financing Group. He is a business writing, training and consulting expert who helps client organizations of all sizes.