While chatting with another marketeer about the challenge of distinguishing between marketing touches and sales leads, something really powerful occurred to me. It’s a way to understand the value of giving information away. Most marketers and sales people want to capture contact information way too soon, instead of providing useful content that makes prospects want to engage. And that means telling the truth and building trust.
This post originally discussed several different ideas related to this concept of being genuine, but I decided to split it up.To me they are all interconnected, so I will get to them all in subsequent posts. Get one, and you will get them all.
We all know that it’s important to build trust in the minds of prospects and customers to create a profitable long-term relationship with them, right?
We all spend budgets driving SEM/SEO activities to get ourselves in front of prospects as soon as they are looking for something.
But what if that’s too late? The assumption behind most SEM work is that potential customers start with a search engine.
There’s an internal search engine that operates before you go to Google or your favorite search site, and that’s your list of trusted information sources.
I’m sure most of us do this as consumers, so why don’t we think about it as B2B marketers? When I want to look for a consumer electronics gadget, I start at www.bestbuy.com, not Google. Why? Because there’s one near my house, and I have a history of finding what I want. For office supply stuff it’s www.officedepot.com for the same reasons. When I’m looking for books or CDs, I start with Barnes and Noble’s website, again because of a history of successful transactions and the fact that I can see the local store from my house. I know they’re not prefect, and you probably do something different, but the key is that they get the first crack at my business. It’s only when they can’t help me that I go to a search engine.
Think about that. It’s a huge advantage for these vendors; they have bypassed the competition entirely by getting on to my internal list of trusted sources. As long as they don’t screw up, I buy from them. Of course, that tells you a lot about the real cost of screwing up a customer interaction, but tht’s another post. Getting your customers to rely on you for information when they begin research is a great way to increase lifetime value at very low cost.
So what does this mean to B2B marketing? Everything!
Why are you thinking about social media marketing? Most of us struggle to explain the business value, but it’s clear from a reputation and trust standpoint: customers who trust you and put you on their internal trust lists buy without looking at the competition.
Think about that again: they buy without looking at the competition!
The next time you put up a great white paper, or promote your next killer webinar, think about the hurdles you put between the consumer and that valuable content. Do you really need all those questions on that registration form?
What if you switched perspective completely, and thought about all the information a site visitor might need to get themselves from prospect to customer?
What if you focused your social networking efforts on getting your sharpest folks connected with your prospects and customers so they (and you) can become trusted and valued members of the community?
I suppose this is a variation of Seth Godin’s original “turning strangers into friends, and friends into customers” idea,but I have always referred to it as facilitating buying, not selling.
So get out there and give more stuff away! It’s the best way to make money.