Few management teams do the drill of how many more sales do we need to achieve goal and then what does it take to get each one? If they do, the stark reality hits that there aren’t enough hours or people or budget to make the goal feasible.
Blind determination sets in and there will be more cold calls and e-mails. Besides, word of mouth will get us over the top.
Nobody takes a phone call from a sales person and that e-mail never got by the SPAM filter or was simply deleted without being read. Referrals are fantastic, but can you remember getting more than 3 last year?
Sales people are a lot like cowboys. In every cowboy movie, you know the cowboy shouldn’t go to the saloon because nothing good ever happens there. Yet that is where most of the people are congregating with drink, gambling, and women. The cowboy usually ends up in a gun fight or worse, when he should have gone to the rancher for work or to sell cattle or horses.
So are you going to be a cowboy or take some real action?
There are basically two streams of income for any business: existing customers and new prospects. Sadly existing patrons are often ignored as more emphasis is put on getting new customers. If more value was provided to existing customers, then the business would make more and have happier fans without the need to chase every prospect.
Let’s ask some hard questions:
- How is your message different from competitors?
- Who are your specific customers?
- What do you do better than your competitors?
Most organizations have a decent sense of their customer base, but struggle greatly with differentiation and value. If all the choices look the same and sound the same, how can a prospect choose?
The worst mistake you can make is looking at competitors websites and mimicking them.
Do your research and make a list of what competitors say and offer. Then you want to try to be strikingly different, if not polar opposite. Once you’ve done your homework, you now have a strategy that you can take to offer content to customers and prospects.
Now most marketing gurus will simply tell you to make a marketing calendar and stick to it. Publish something daily, weekly, monthly, or whatever (more often is obviously best right?). Then blast to e-mail and every social media you can find.
Gosh, it’s time again. Let’s post about:
- Our product
- Our new hire
- Our award
- Our whatever
You see the pattern and that’s the second biggest mistake being all about you. It’s dull or bragging and definitely just SPAM. Go ahead and commit the third major mistake, just get a service that publishes often unrelated and duplicate blog posts around the Internet. You don’t have to worry about ideas or writing anything any more. Of course you’re back to just being like everyone else or foolishly publishing drivel that has nothing to do with your business.
What if you took your new strategy and made a weekly or monthly schedule to:
- Answer common prospect and customer questions
- Give customers the information they need throughout the buying cycle
- List myths or do’s and don’ts
- Provide a simple how to
- Offer a white paper or an e-book
- Explain industry specific advice
Lean close. Very few people make money writing. No one sells anything through social media. Have a plan about what you broadcast and where. For us, LinkedIn is where our customers are. Twitter is for quick broadcasts and updating our website feed. YouTube is where we are growing videos which most competitors don’t have.
We dropped Facebook and Google+ because we had no unique content for those platforms and few followers since our target market wasn’t there. Likewise, we aren’t chasing Pinterest or other social media sites and won’t unless we have customers there and unique content that is specifically for that platform.
Not one of my peers provides any information on a blog.
They either don’t have the time, ability, or understanding. Useful information for customers is an intangible asset that shows your organization as expert and a thought leader. When customers are educated, they reach out to you. Since there has been no painful disruption or hard sell, you discuss business rather than trying to convince them to trust you. Also, you get to inform existing customers on a regular basis instead of them not hearing from you for long periods of time.
Once you have your strategy:
- Create a spreadsheet with rows by month and columns for your blog, website, social media sites, and ideas.
- Take no more than an hour and try to fill in a topic each month for all columns except ideas. Remember to draft off of holidays or other noteworthy events around the year. The sequence of posts may also be driven by the priority of information around your strategy.
- Ideas are your place to list day-to-day things in your business that would be good posts for customers. You can always be flexible and add or move topics around if you think of something better or a topic is more timely.
- At first, you may only have one item per month. That’s fine. Don’t worry about perfect. If the title is unique and you’re providing something about customers and not about you, then you are light years ahead of silent and unchanging competition.
- An occasional event or promotion is acceptable. For an award or industry news, try to make it a story or provide the value or meaning to customers.
Our strategy was set long ago. The spreadsheet is complete for the year. With just one week into January, websites have been updated twice and 4 blog posts published. That’s more than the competition will do all year. More importantly, customers have come to depend upon the updates.
We’re going to crush 2015 with content and you should too.