How do you feel when a stranger interrupts a personal conversation you are having with a close friend? Yeah, I thought so.
So how did we ever conclude that interrupting people with advertisements for our product or services, would ever be popular? So how do you get extreme funk on with prospects? Well, the secret is rather simple.
It is much easier to strike up a conversation with someone when they have a problem and you can provide a solution. The trick is to help them realize they have a problem in the first place. This is called the ‘awareness phase’ and drives your marketing. It helps people name the issue and to realize they should be seeking a solution.
This is how inbound marketing methodologies can be used to gain a prospect’s attention. Providing valuable educational content when they are actively trying to solve a problem is a great way to establish value in the prospect’s mind.
Inbound marketing is ALL about education, but strategically shaped education. The central premise is similar to the consultative selling process. When you have consulted sufficiently with the prospect about the nature of their problem and helped them explore solutions you have strategically thinned the herd. Those prospects that step forward, will be highly qualified and end up being ideal clients.
Education also plays an important role in helping prospects discover their fit with your services. Content that is well researched and designed to address the most pressing problems your ideal client faces – will of course appeal to those people.
This is the beginning of their ‘buyer’s journey’. Not everyone will complete that journey, nor do you want that. You want only those prospects whose problems are uniquely solved by your solutions. Satisfied and even delighted clients will be the result.
Everyone gets to feel good – even those who did not buy or hire you. Because your solution was not what they were looking for anyway. In other words, the education process also serves to disqualify those prospects who would end up being poor or difficult clients.
So how do you reach the prospects with your educational content? By starting a conversation. The online equivalent of a conversation with your prospect population is chiefly through the offering of exceptionally attractive content in the form of Ebooks, videos, webinars, etc. They initially engage with you by downloading these from a landing page.
This content has been carefully crafted to address the most pressing problems your client prospects are facing. If you have researched your marketplace well enough, your content can be designed to join the conversation that is already going on in the prospect’s mind.
This is is one of the chief ways inbound marketing differs from ‘interruption marketing’. You don’t ‘jump out’ on people with some message about what you or your firm does. ‘How can I Retire Sooner?’ may be a bit clumsy but it may be very close to the language going on in your ideal clients head right now.
Once you have gained their attention – they are a click away from entering the buyer’s journey with your company. They download the quality content and that helps them move from the ‘awareness’ stage of problem-solving to the ‘consideration’ stage. Bingo you just happen to have a piece of carefully researched content that can help them with the consideration stage.
‘Stocks versus Bonds as Retirement Plan Option’ This content helps the prospect become aware of their options for solving the problem. Each engagement with your content is usually a step further into the buyer’s journey.
If a person concludes that they are going to stuff all their money under the mattress, then both you and the prospect have been saved the disappointment of a poor client-provider relationship. In other words, your content is helping your prospects self-select. Your blog posts (carefully curated to address their problems) and social media updates serve to keep you / your firm top of mind as they continue to consider viable options.
Using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software helps you keep track of where all of these people are in their journey. The latter stages of the buyer’s journey can involve a ‘free consultation’ so they can talk to an expert (you) and ask more specific questions. Their questions will be usually very well-formed ones because your content has been educating them along the way.
By now it’s pretty obvious that carefully researched and crafted content is the key strategy for getting the attention of your ideal client-prospect. It is also the key component in moving them along the buyer’s journey.
Marketing automation does play an important role in making sure the right person receives the right message at the right time. However poorly researched content, no matter how well it is automated, rarely gets positive results.
In the next blog post, we will discuss how to go about researching your client prospect and creating content that makes your firm or brand practically irresistible.