Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash
In this day and age, you’ll find a bunch of tools, software, and options to help you get started with that new business you’ve promised yourself you’d create. But, you also probably don’t have thousands of dollars to dump into a new business as you struggle with the house payment and food bill. You don’t need a fancy office or storefront to get your business started. In fact, you can market a product without leaving your home. I had a college student one year who was making serious bank by selling products from home in his spare time.
Now, we’re well into the quarantine period at this stage, and, even as some businesses cautiously begin to open, the vast majority of budding entrepreneurs are sitting at home contemplating what a future looks like after being laid off from their jobs or finding their job just disappeared. Just because you’re stuck on your couch in your PJs and bunny slippers doesn’t mean you can’t start the new business you’ve always wanted – especially from a marketing point of view. As we mentioned, there are so many different avenues to go down these days and many of them require very little upfront cost. So, turn off Netflix and pay attention to these 3 ways to market a product from home and begin your journey toward independence.
Market a product (or service) from home
If you’re an expert at something, or just a little goofy in a way others find entertaining, there are lots of things to market without leaving your home. Just remember, when we talk about how to market a product, we’re referring to bother goods (tangible products) and services (intangibles).
Market a service
Service options may not be possible for everyone, but you’re probably better at something than you think. And, services have the added advantage of costing nothing, so sales are fundamentally pure profit (after you take out marketing expenses).
Here are some examples of services you can offer for sale:
- Business services like accounting, financial planning (for these it helps if you have a license), marketing, or IT support. Fiverr and other marketplaces exist to market these services.
- Creative services like design or entertainment. For instance, folks produce concerts from their balconies or perform entire plays from home. By placing a sign with Venmo or PayPal account information, these performers turn their talent into profit.
- Maintenance services, like gardening or landscaping. Sure, you want to avoid services inside someone’s home to keep from spreading the virus, but outdoor spaces are much safer places to work.
- Personal services, such as hairstyling, are a no-no during the pandemic, but you can plan ahead for the end of stay-at-home orders. That way you’re hitting the ground running once the pandemic is over.
Market a product
Trying to market a product is a little riskier since you incur costs to acquire the product in the first place and, if you’re unsuccessful, that upfront cost is lost. Still, the tangible nature of products makes them somewhat easier to sell and most essentials are tangible products, unlike services, which are often discretionary.
New tools and inexpensive devices mean anyone can set up a studio at home to capture attention (and make money). For instance, during the pandemic, home cooks made a name for themselves by teaching online cooking classes or, in some cases, selling their goods through low-touch options. A few comedians made money posting daily skits on their TikTok channel.
Bespoke products, such as jewelry, art, masks, and other handmade products are in high demand right now and are easily made from home. Pinterest even has a pinboard of the best products to market from home.
I talked earlier about my student who made a tidy sum by dropshipping products. In his case, he sold miniature football helmets emblazoned with the logos for various professional and college teams. Weird, if know, but folks wanted that kind of stuff and were willing to pay for them. Rather than buy a bunch of helmets when many might go unsold, he arranged with the manufacturer to sell the products. Hence, every time a customer bought a helmet from the student’s website, an order went to the manufacturer, who sent the product along to the buyer. The student then paid the manufacturer and pocket the rest.
Now, this may sound implausible. Why didn’t the manufacturer just set up his own website and keep all the money? Well, it’s a reality that manufacturers are in business to make products not sell them. They don’t have the expertise and don’t want to bother when they can sell through a distributor and focus on their own business. That’s the way almost everything you buy gets to you. So, the student’s idea was a sound one.
Marketing your products
Of course, determining what to sell, developing the products, and setting up your channels of distribution are only one part when it comes time to market a product. The big task, the thing that distinguishes success from failure is the marketing part of the equation. Here are 3 options to use when you market a product from home or anywhere else, for that matter.
Social media is the easiest way to get your message across to anyone these days. Whether you’re using a social platform for personal reasons or business ones, a quick press of the ‘post’ button allows the entire planet to see what you have to say. It’s no wonder businesses are using every big platform they can get their hands on as a tool for marketing.
You should join in, too. Gone are the days of using social media to simply chat and meet people – it’s a lot more advanced now!
Facebook even hosts Marketplace — an online shop where you can sell anything from your old couch to your bespoke products or services in exchange for a small commission.
Build A Pretty Website
Or, be like my student to sell something from a website. Websites aren’t as tricky to create as they might appear at first blush and they’re easier now than they’ve ever been. I even offer a free guide to developing a website that walks a novice through the process screen-by-screen.
Sure, if you want to make the most sophisticated website, you’ll need to know a few tricks of the trade, but simple ones are pretty easy to get your head around. Just don’t be fooled by those drag-and-drop websites like Wix and Squarespace. You’ll find their templates limiting and search engines don’t like them much.
Speaking of search engines, folks use search engines all day every day, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re website shows up high in the results when they look for (or something similar to) what you’re offering. You can find out a lot about SEO (search engine optimization) by reading other posts here or around the Internet.
Work With An Agency
Marketing agencies are great for advertising your business and, newer digital agencies handle everything from SEO to content marketing, to social media marketing. Some agencies are pretty specialized, such as an SEO agency, while others offer a range of integrated services.
The entire reason agencies exist is to optimize your business and make it more profitable. Whether it’s an app marketing agency or one specializing in SEO, they offer services and advice to help your business succeed. You sit back and let them come up with all kinds of strategies and campaigns. Sure, there’s an upfront investment with an agency, but your money usually pays off in the long-term if you choose the right agency.
Influencers are well-connected people and they’ve always existed. The trendsetters who determine which fashions succeed or the soccer mom who started the run to Starbucks after drop-off. Some are so popular we call them micro-celebrities and I recently heard that these folks are forever changing the notion of celebrity.
Influencers drive the behavior of others with their ideas and trends. For some reason, the average human being likes to look up to influencers whether it’s the unboxing kid who goes ape over a new toy or the fashionista who demonstrates the proper technique for smoky eyes.
So, it’s a good idea to consider using an influencer to promote your work. Influencers often work for just the cost of the product (making most of their money through advertising), although some demand a hefty fee. Influencer marketing is an easy method and one that many startups use to get their business started.
AI marketing and business growth
- AI is not only used for understanding data, but it is also used for understanding human behavior.
- Businesses should look at AI as a means to problem-solving rather than a tool for understanding numbers.
- Since this is an omnichannel world, AI can help with integration by creating an impactful experience.
- A consistent message using AI will meet the audience in a natural way. Businesses that create consistency throughout the buyer’s journey will be able to generate growth.
- Businesses can humanize AI by integrating it with storytelling, which helps connect the robotic function of AI to the emotions of your audience.
- Audience behavior will always be a massive push for AI. So once businesses understand what goes into solving a problem from a marketing and customer perspective, they will be able to grow in a world drastically evolving in an unknown climate.
By now, everyone has heard of artificial intelligence (AI). From search engine algorithms to new tools for optimization, marketers are jumping on the AI bandwagon to understand how it all works together.
But AI is not only for understanding data alone. When implemented correctly, it can help you to grow your business by creating a personalized experience for your target audience.
Why AI is more than data
With the current health climate, artificial intelligence is more data-hungry than ever. The reason for this is the lack of historical data concerning COVID-19. But as we advance AI, the future will be less about data integration and more about solutions.
For example, Google incorporates AI into its algorithm to help understand search intent.
In 2019, Google announced an algorithm change that would impact 10 percent of queries because of its use of Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. The change is there to better understand the reason for the user’s search.
AI looks at more than data. As this technology understands intent, AI marketing will be used to discuss the reasoning behind a task. AI will become a primary tool used for problem-solving rather than a tool for understanding numbers.
Visualize a world where robots conceptually understand as much as humans. Some marketers are afraid of AI while others are embracing it to help improve business operations.
Instead of thinking of artificial intelligence as a form of “The Terminator”, marketers can look at it as a partner by guiding a user down the modern-day funnel.
There are some companies working with robots that utilize AI to understand everyday tasks, communicate naturally and handle unexpected situations.
Imagine what advanced artificial intelligence could have done for the world during COVID-19. AI could have helped with understanding human behavioral patterns in a short time, thus tracking the spread of the virus.
AI and your marketing strategy
Artificial intelligence helps gather insight into your target audience, which is why marketers must understand how data integration works to figure out the intent for doing a task.
An integrated marketing approach is essential in today’s omnichannel world, so AI can help marketers produce that integration.
You need to be consistent in producing the same experience and messages through each channel. A consistent message using AI will meet the audience in a natural way. Businesses who create consistency throughout the buyer’s journey will be able to generate growth.
The buyer’s journey includes the modern-day funnel, and it has many stages, such as awareness, consideration and decision. A user can enter the funnel at any stage because of all the many channels to receive a message.
Successful marketers will be able to grow a business by understanding how to create engagement and personalization at each stage of the funnel while turning leads into loyal customers, thereby constantly nurturing the relationship.
The funnel includes a flywheel approach. HubSpot believes that the funnel is failing businesses because the flywheel model is the better way to go.
However, when looking at a website, the funnel helps identify each web page according to the stage within the funnel. Every keyword that is added to a web page has an intent for search.
A user in the awareness stage will use different keywords than a user in the consideration stage. Therefore, you can look at the funnel as including the flywheel.
The funnel uses momentum to create a relationship with your customers. It is simply saying that business keeps spinning. But, if you look at the customer reentering the funnel, you will see that there is a circle or flywheel within the funnel.
The experience should never stop, and this is where artificial intelligence comes in handy.
AI can be used for comprehensive engagement in your marketing strategy. By constantly evaluating intent, your customers’ interactions will be determined across channels to create a true omnichannel experience.
Marketing is already analytically driven. AI can help businesses to grow by taking business back to focusing on what matters – the customer experience.
Elements of creativity will never go away
The businesses that utilize AI correctly will be the ones that stand out and grow. Storytelling helps connect with an audience on an emotional level. Businesses can humanize artificial intelligence by integrating it with the art of storytelling. Therefore, elements of creativity will never go away.
Storytelling will help businesses to create a memorable experience. But, the growth of audience engagement is not storytelling. True content creators will look at storytelling as a narrative to demonstrate what a business represents.
Marketers will look at what the business represents and how it fits into creating a solution.
As AI evolves in society and redefines the reason for producing solutions, the nature of creativity in marketing will continue to evolve. The measurement in marketing is the value of output, thinking more like innovators and less like advertisers.
Marketers must understand how the buyer’s journey incorporates both the funnel and the flywheel to properly make use of AI.
Relevancy is not a new concept. Rather, being relevant in the moment is a new concept. To provide a good experience, you must adopt an agile mindset for the process of problem-solving.
Audience behavior will always be a massive push for AI. So once businesses understand what goes into solving a problem from a marketing and customer perspective, they will be able to grow in a world drastically evolving in an unknown climate.
Ashley Schweigert is the owner of Marcom Content by Ashley, LLC.
Online reputation management: Seven steps to success
- Apparently, it’s crucial to track your reputation in order to prevent PR crises. Moreover, monitoring your reputation enables you to discover valuable customer insights.
- Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario, Aleh Barysevich, shares a strategy to tackle the challenges of online reputation management.
- Right from setting up your online reputation management (ORM) protocol to becoming proactive about getting reviews, there’s more to discover.
There’s no need to explain the importance of reputation for businesses. The good word of your customers, potential or existing, is the best promotion tool you have. Meanwhile, scandals and criticism can ruin companies. Reputation becomes even more important during the times of crisis when emotions are heightened and any mistake can lead to a full-blown scandal.
The internet really just amplified the importance of reputation: news and rumours travel fast, but on social media, they travel even faster (and reach more people). Who among us hasn’t checked the reviews before purchasing a product or hasn’t checked out a brand after seeing a friend praising it on social media? No matter the size of your business, people are talking about you online, sharing their opinion on social media or leaving a review on Yelp and the likes of it.
It would be wrong to think about online reputation as something separate from your “real-world” or offline reputation: with three billion social media users and counting your online reputation is simply your reputation, it affects purchasing decisions both online and offline.
For example, Gillette’s polarizing campaign “The Best Men Can Be” gathered a lot of negative feedback (as well as some positive). Social media users publicly denounced the company and promised to stop buying Gillette razors. That wasn’t the first time a social media scandal led to calls for a boycott of the company, Nike and Uber being other notable examples.
— warroom (@warroom) January 15, 2019
Besides the obvious need to track your reputation in order to prevent PR crises, monitoring your reputation enables you to discover valuable customer insights. Once you start paying close attention to your reviews and mentions online, you’ll learn what people love about your product, what they think you could improve, and what influences their decisions the most.
All this makes reputation management more relevant than ever. You simply can’t ignore online conversations around your brand if you want to have a successful business. Luckily, the digital world gives us a lot more tactics and tools to monitor and actively improve our reputation than the offline world ever could. This article covers online reputation management step by step, giving you specific guidelines to follow.
How to manage your reputation online
Most businesses already conduct some type of online reputation management (ORM), for example, answering customers’ comments and posts where they were tagged. But to make your reputation crisis-proof, you need a robust workflow, and that’s what this article is all about. You can use these steps to revise your existing ORM workflow or build a new one from scratch.
Step one: Set up your ORM protocol
Before you even start going through your online reviews, you need to establish some guidelines. These will help you and your team to know when to respond to reviews, do it appropriately and quickly, and know the best way to act if there’s a threat of a reputation crisis. This protocol can be as thorough as you like depending on how much you are synced with your team, but here are some questions to answer to figure out the guidelines:
- How fast should you answer? Obviously, the quicker your response, the better, but it’s a good practice to establish the minimum response time required for your team members.
- How transparent are you willing to be? This will help you determine if you want to go into all the nuances when responding to a customer or simply reassure them that you’re working on the issue. The recent trends prove that transparency is very much appreciated by customers.
- What tone of voice should you use? This, of course, will depend on your brand. Should you be cordial or professional and straight-to-the-point? Can you make jokes? Oftentimes a funny response to a complaint can go viral. For example, Oatly is one of the brands that heavily uses negative reviews in its marketing putting an ironic spin on them. But would it fit your brand’s image?
- Who will be the spokesperson(s) in case of a crisis? If the need arises, who will be giving the official statements on behalf of your brand? Is it the CEO, or the PR manager? Again, you can decide on the answer based on your company’s image — if you’re trying to build authentic relationships with customers and/or have a charismatic leader, it’s only logical that your CEO will do the talking.
- Should you automate your responses? Automation cuts your response time to seconds and allows you to save on staff, but can you be sure it won’t anger your customers? In the example below, the customer grew frustrated after trying to solve their problem on Twitter and getting the same scripted message from Amazon.
— Karen Das (@menezeskaren) April 12, 2020
- Should you always respond? Some brands take their pride in the “always respond rule”, and for smaller brands, it’s actually a must — the more engagement you get, the higher your brand awareness, especially on social media. But once you start getting a ton of mentions at once, you might need to start prioritizing. Besides, sometimes negative reviews can just become trolling — and if there’s one rule you need to learn on the Internet, it’s “Don’t feed the trolls”.
By answering the questions, you should have a clear outline of dos and don’ts for your social media, community, and PR managers.
Step two: Choose and set up a monitoring tool
You could try tracking your online reviews and mentions manually, but without a specialized tool, it’s practically impossible. Online reputation management tools enable you to find mentions of your company on social media, in the news, and on review aggregator websites. There is an array of monitoring tools for different needs and budgets, such as Awario, Brandwatch, Reputology, and others. How do you choose the right one?
As with the previous step, there are some questions you could ask yourself and your team to decide which tool to settle on:
- Platforms it covers. Of course, when we are doing online reputation management, the more feedback we find, the better. But for some businesses specific websites or social media platforms are crucial: for example, TripAdvisor for tourist guide companies or Instagram for clothing brands.
- Sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis is one of the core features in ORM. It helps you focus on dealing with negative reviews first and see the overall share of negative and positive mentions of your brand.
- Special features. Are there any particular requirements that your team might have? Do you need influencer analytics to quickly prioritize reviews with the biggest reach first? Or do you maybe need a tool that could easily be integrated with your CRM/task manager?
- Pricing. Reputation management tools vary greatly in pricing going from Enterprise-level analytical powerhouses that cost thousands of dollars, to much more affordable options for mid- and small-sized businesses. Make sure the core features you’re looking for are available in the plan you’re ready to pay for!
Most tools offer either free trials or demos to get you acquainted with them, so you can investigate before you are ready to invest.
Once you settle on a tool, you need to set it up to start monitoring. You can monitor your brand name, the name of your products, the names of key public figures in your company. Don’t forget to include common misspellings of these words and phrases – it’s a common mistake that brands make when monitoring their reputation which results in missing a lot of feedback.
Most tools allow you to choose some filters for your monitoring efforts: to find reviews only in a certain language, from certain countries or platforms.
If there’s a topic that causes particular concern for your reputation (for example, Shell and oil spillage), you can create a separate monitoring alert for it using a Boolean search mode.
Most reputation management tools have a notification settings tab where you can choose when and how you want to receive notifications.
Now that you’re finished with your setup, it’s time to check your online reputation!
Step three: Check sentiment analytics and mention spikes
The first thing to do every time you go to your online reputation management tool is to look at the dashboard. This is typically where all your analytics are visualized so you can notice if something is out of the ordinary right away.
First, look at your overall sentiment and see the shares of positive and negative mentions. This will give you an understanding of your overall reputation. You can select different time frames to get a closer look at a certain moment in your company’s history, or vice versa choose as big of a time frame as you want to get a historical perspective.
Other important graphs here are the number and reach of mentions, specifically, sudden spikes in it. A sudden spike in the number of mentions means that a lot of people are talking about you (hopefully, for a good reason) and a sudden spike in reach can also indicate that some influential account or website mentioned your brand. A lot of stories nowadays emerge on social media and paying attention to spikes allows you to get on top of the story right away.
Step four: Deal with the social media mentions
Now that you’re sure that there are no reputation crises unfurling at the moment, it’s time to deal with individual mentions. I suggest focusing on social media first since it’s the media with the biggest “sense of urgency”, that is, the medium where people expect you to answer the quickest. According to the study by The Social Habit, 42% of social media users expect a brand to respond in 60 minutes or less.
Most tools have some kind of a feed that gives you access to individual mentions. For now, filter out everything but the mentions from social media platforms: we will deal with the rest a bit later.
Usually, social media mentions are sorted by date with the newest mentions displayed first. You can filter them to see negative mentions only to make sure you respond to the unhappy customers first, and then take a look at the neutral and positive mentions, thanking users and sharing favorable posts. Testimonials are an extremely powerful way to promote your brand, so don’t neglect the positive reviews you get, use them.
The mentions, both positive and negative, can be a great source of customer insights as well. Pay attention to constructive feedback, you can even tag them to come back to them later or share them with your colleagues.
Step five: Check review sites
Now that social media are dealt with, let’s move on to other types of review platforms: Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon, and any industry-specific platforms you might come across.
To find these reviews, do the opposite of what we did in the previous step: filter out all the social media mentions as well as the news. Some tools like Awario even offer a whitelist feature which is used to prioritize certain domains — this could come in handy if you want to make sure you’re getting mentions from specific websites popular in your industry.
Most websites allow you to respond to reviews once you verify your brand’s account — as with social media, start with the negative ones. You can also share the positive reviews on your website and social media through plugins or screenshots.
If you allow reviews on your own website (if you’re running an eCommerce business, for example), now is a good time to go through them as well.
Step six: Check mentions from the media
Granted you haven’t noticed a sudden change in the sentiment or number of mentions at the third step, media outlets and blogs can wait until you’ve dealt with social reviews. Of course, if you’re in the midst of a PR scandal, the news becomes a much more important source. Also, these steps could be tackled by different teams – social and reviews sites can be taken care of by community managers and news and blogs can be handled by the PR professionals. Nevertheless, they will still be using the same online reputation management tool.
Filter out everything but mentions from news and blogs. Then the workflow is pretty much the same: check the negative articles first, then the rest. You can reach out to bloggers and journalists to try to swing their opinion in case of negative coverage or thank them and possibly build lasting relationships.
Step seven: Become proactive about getting reviews
Some communication specialists may treat reviews as a headache: the truth is people are much more likely to leave negative reviews than positive ones. This discrepancy can create a feeling of despair when it comes to online reputation management, but this only means that you need to become more proactive about getting reviews from your customers.
The secret to getting more reviews is asking for them! You need to set up a consistent system of encouraging your customers to leave reviews on social media and review platforms. You can do it manually or use automation tools (Buffer, Mailchimp, Delighted) to schedule social media posts and emails encouraging users to leave reviews and add review-requests plugins to your website. Resharing positive reviews on social may also encourage other users to post praises to your business. You can even run a social media contest focusing on positive reviews as the main challenge for your followers. Get creative!
To sum up
With proper preparations, online reputation management becomes a piece of cake. Once you have clear guidelines in place (which can be perfected over time) and set up a reputation management tool, there should be no trouble for you to make your reputation crisis-proof.
Aleh Barysevich is Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario.
The post Online reputation management: Seven steps to success appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
How do I increase my close rate and speed up the sales cycle?
There’s really no need to bury the lede here. I won’t waste our time with a long anecdote or some analogous intro filled with buzzwords and sales jargon.
The solution is truly simple.
The faster you can build trust with your prospects and buyers — the more sales you’ll close, and the less time you’ll spend answering the same questions about your products and services, over and over again.
So, the follow up question is this: How can I build trust faster with my prospective buyers?
Just think about it as a consumer yourself. What brands have earned your trust, and why? What did that company do or say to make you feel confident in your decision to buy — before, during, and even after your purchase?
At IMPACT, we coach our clients to build this long-term trust with their customers and prospects through a proven digital sales and marketing philosophy.
Using They Ask, You Answer as our playbook, we teach organizational leaders to step into the shoes of their buyers.
What concerns, problems, and challenges do they have? What questions do they need answered in order to build trust and make an informed buying decision?
How are you answering these questions and sharing that knowledge with prospective buyers in every stage of the buying process?
While the solution might be simple, it takes time to develop an honest and transparent sales and marketing strategy focused on educating your buyers.
Whether you’re in sales, business development, or customer service, building trust quickly begins and ends with educational content — in the form of blog articles and videos.
If you’re looking to build trust faster with your prospective buyers, follow the steps below for effectively creating, organizing, tracking, and using informative content throughout the sales process.
Think about the following five questions. Can you answer these with your current sales and marketing strategy?
- How are you helping to create content within your organization?
- Is that content organized and easy for buyers to find?
- How are you tracking the way buyers interact with the content on your website?
- How are you using that content in the sales process?
- How are you using personalized video to share your content directly with prospects?
How are you helping to create content within your organization?
Consumer research shows us, on average, 70% of the buying decision is already made before a prospect even speaks to a company.
If we know that to be true, think about where your buyer’s are finding their information to build up that 70% knowledge base.
How much faster could you establish trust with a prospect if that educational material was coming directly from your company?
As a sales rep, no one understands the concerns and questions of your potential buyers better than you.
You hear these questions in daily exploratory calls, in-home visits, email exchanges, and good old fashioned networking opportunities at events and trade shows.
Share this knowledge with your marketing team and help them create educational content that calms concerns and answers the questions you hear every day.
Where should I start with creating content?
Sit down with your organization’s content manager and get involved in the content development process. Spend at least one hour a month brainstorming and working directly with this content writer.
Use this time wisely and imagine your writer is the most important prospect you’ll meet with all month.
Start with the most common questions, which will ultimately be rooted in The Big 5 topic buckets of price, problems, comparisons, reviews, and best in class.
Each subsequent month you should meet to discuss the most recent questions you have been asked by prospective buyers. Are there new questions and therefore new topics to cover and include in the content calendar? Do older pieces of content need to updated?
Is that content organized and easy for your sales team to find?
Now that you’re working with your marketing team and helping to produce educational content that is honest and unbiased, do you know how to find those articles and videos when you need them?
Organizing this content on your website in a learning center is extremely important for your customers, prospects, and general site visitors — and perhaps even more importantly, for your entire sales team.
A great learning center makes it easy for visitors to find content that will answer their questions. Filters and searches can be integrated into the functionality, allowing users to easily jump to the content they’re looking for.
Along with a catalogued learning center, your team can create an internal repository spreadsheet, organized by categories such as publication date, topic, specific product or service offering, and a link to the respective article or video.
If you’re looking for a template, you can always use your marketing team’s content calendar as a repository document. This will allow the sales team to track and organize all the most recent content, and better understand what topics are coming down the pike.
Where should I start with organizing content?
Work with your marketing team and content writer to create an organized Excel spreadsheet or Google sheet. Include links to all the educational content on your website so your entire sales team can easily access this information as soon as they need it.
How are you tracking the way buyers interact with the content on your website?
If you’re working with marketing to help create educational content and you have an organized repository of articles and videos that are easily accessible — you’re off to a great start.
Before you begin sharing this great content with prospects in the sales process, do you know how those prospects are interacting with the content on your website? Can you see the website and landing page history of these potential buyers — which blog articles they have read and videos they have watched?
If you want to have a deeper understanding of your potential buyers, use a robust CRM (customer relationship management) tool to track these engagements for actionable, lead intelligence.
Tools like HubSpot allow you to better understand a prospect’s specific needs.
If they’re reading articles about a particular product, you know you can focus your conversations and learning material around those product reviews, problems, and prices — tailoring your communication to their unique concerns.
When we learn how our buyers are interacting with our articles, videos, webinars, and ebooks — our sales teams can better prepare before interacting with each prospective buyer.
Where should I start with tracking content?
Is your content helping your company make money? If you struggle to answer this question, start by reading this playbook: “Get the Most Out of Digital Sales & Marketing Technology (& measure ROI)”
Schedule a meeting with your marketing team to discuss your marketing automation and CRM capabilities. Are you getting the most out of the tools you’re using now?
If you’re using HubSpot, but not sure where to get started, schedule a HubSpot CRM training with your sales and marketing teams to establish a culture of understanding your buyer’s behaviors.
How are you using that content in the buying process? (Hint: assignment selling is the key)
Now that you have high-quality content that answers your prospect’s questions, how can you use these educational articles to help build trust?
Remember that every email sent out by your sales team, and any communication with a prospective buyer, is a teaching opportunity. Intentionally using these articles to educate customers and prospects before you ever pick up a phone — that is what we call assignment selling.
Sharing this educational content before you speak with a prospect will help you be seen as a teacher first and a sales person second.
Now that you can track a prospective buyer’s history on your website, you can identify the specific products and services they are interested in.
When you reach out to that prospect directly, you have the ability to help resolve their major concerns so they are much more prepared for a sales appointment.
Imagine how much less time you would spend answering those common questions if a prospective customer already had the knowledge they needed to make an informed buying decision?
What if they read all those articles you helped create about the problems, reviews, and product comparisons — before you spoke with them?
By sharing content and educating prospects in the buying process you can spend more time teaching before the appointment, and less time convincing during the meeting.
Not only does sharing this educational content with prospects help speed up the sale, but it will also improve your average closing rate.
Marcus Sheridan shares proof of these increased closing rates in They Ask, You Answer. When he began tracking the way visitors were interacting with his website River Pools and Spas, he noticed something interesting about the number 30.
When a prospective customer who requested a sales call had read 30 pages or more on his website, Marcus found his closing rate to be an average of 80%.
Compare that to the prospects who had requested a sales call and read less than 30 pages, where his closing rate dropped all the way down to 25%.
In addition to learning about products and services, these prospects have also come to know Marcus and his company. They’ve gotten to know the voice and tone of the brand, and this leads them to know and trust the company before they buy.
Marcus’ research proves that knowledge and education are powerful tools for the sales process. Sharing this knowledge with your prospects during the buyer’s journey, through your content and videos, can help you dramatically improve your closing rates.
Where should I start with using content in the buying process?
Create a plan to educate your prospect before and after the initial sales call. What content did they consume on your site before filling out a form or clicking “request a quote?”
Share additional resources with them about those topics to help them prepare for your call.
After the call, follow up with additional educational resources rather than sending those standard salesy emails like “Just checking in. Let me know if you have any questions.” Instead, include a few links to specific articles and videos on your website that will continue to educate and inform your potential buyer.
🔎Check out this article: “5 examples of assignment selling in action”
How are you using personalized video to share your content directly with prospects?
As IMPACT’s Video for Sales expert Myriah Anderson likes to say “video isn’t just a tool for marketers anymore.”
When it comes to building trust quickly with your prospective buyers, there’s nothing quite as effective as the sales team using personalized videos.
93% of all communication is nonverbal. That means if we jump on an audio-only call with a prospect before meeting them, we’re introducing ourselves with only 7% of our communicating ability. We’re trying to win over their trust, and yet we’re only operating at 7% capacity. So how do we improve our odds?
What if we introduced ourselves to prospects with 100% of our communicating capacity? When people hear us AND see us, they know us and start to trust us. Using one-to-one personalized videos to communicate with prospects will help you dramatically increase the odds of building trust quickly.
And we’re not talking about Spielberg-quality videos with high-production value.
You don’t need expensive video equipment, high-tech lighting, and a personal makeup artist to shoot effective sales videos. Imagine you’re recreating an in-person conversation and you’re speaking directly to one person. In fact, it can actually be more effective to use your computer’s webcam or even your phone to produce these videos.
There are great software tools like Vidyard that allow you to record videos and share them directly into your emails. You can even record a video that includes a unique GIF image, along with a specific URL to your video message, followed by a custom title and message.
Where should I start with personalized video?
Before you start typing out your next email to a prospective buyer, think about how much more impactful your message would be coming as a personalized video. You can get started for free using Vidyard’s simple software solution — and share that custom video in your email.
Here are a few helpful tips to use when including one-to-one videos in your sales emails.
- Use “Video” in the subject line (“Mark, I made this short video message for you”)
- Let your viewers know the length of the video
- Spark the viewer’s interest with the lead for your video
- Get creative with your video thumbnail
- Include links to your website content that will educate the prospect further
🔎Learn more about personalized video and when to use it: “
Playing the long game to build trust faster
In order to increase your company’s close rates and shorten the sales cycle, go back and think about the brands that have earned your trust. What brand’s do you interact with that give you the confidence needed to make an informed buying decision?
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and create a step-by-step plan for your sales team that will help you build trust faster. Focus on educational content and use this guide to effectively create, organize, track, and utilize informative content throughout the sales process.
Take the time to plan out this process with your marketing and sales teams, understanding that the end-goal is to build trust faster with your customers.
This long-term strategy will ultimately result in more knowledgeable customers, shorter sales cycles, and higher closing rates.
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