By Travis Kennedy
Are you a glass half-full or half-empty type? If empty, you might say that we’re living in an increasingly cynical world. If full, maybe you’d say our world has become more transparent. Either way, customers are more empowered than ever before to see through a poorly constructed sales pitch and avoid being “sold” something that is over-priced, over-complicated or simply over-kill.
Unless the buyer is at the very end of his purchasing cycle and simply looking for a quote to compare vendors and award the sale to the most attractive bid (often the cheapest), sales-oriented marketing material is not going to help you win favor at the critical early stage of the buying cycle.
Establish a Base of Credibility
Addressing your customers’ information needs early can help you avoid the “ignore and move on” nature of buyers as the purchasing process comes to its conclusion. Studies have shown that the more helpful and “non-salesy” you are during the early problem-evaluation process when the customer is not yet ready to buy, the more successful you’ll be at the end of the process when they are.
Your most valuable asset to get a place at that proverbial table is credibility. And the most effective means to build credibility in the water and wastewater market is to publish helpful, topical and entertaining information for your target audience. Good content gets shared and the more it is shared, the more credibility you will build.
Grow Your Sales
In the world of advertising, effective frequency describes the number of times a reader must see an ad before a response is generated. There’s no definitive answer but all can agree that few products are sold after one exposure and several exposures are necessary for an ad to start resonating.
If we apply the same concept to brand publishing, we know that great content will inherently drive your audience to desire more. By publishing the right content, many audience members will exchange their contact information for it. It’s a business transaction where the reader pays with their time, attention and contact information and you pay by providing the type of content they want on a regular basis.
What better way to grow your lead database than to identify WHO is interested in your content and log their contact information? If they took time out of their busy day to engage with your article, there is a good chance that they are involved in the type of projects that could utilize your technology or service.
Once contact information is acquired, you can begin what I like to call “the buyer’s journey” with them. Continue to provide investigative content to match the buyer’s investigative search. As it moves into the evaluation phase, help the reader by providing comparative data and charts so that they can evaluate different solutions. And when it is time to buy, the heavy lifting will have been completed. Far better to have gained the admiration of your customer throughout their buying journey than to try to win them over with profit-killing pricing maneuvers at the finish line.
Image credit: "Businessmen skaking hands," reynermedia, 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/