In case you aren’t paying attention to marketing these days, there has been a change brought on by social media, SEO and the cultural distrust of sales in general.
Look around and watch what’s happening to your favorite products and services. Watch the commercials (instead of skipping them) during your favorite reality show and you will see what I am talking about.
There has been a dramatic shift in marketing.
Those of us in marketing have realized it. And if you are good, you’ve made the switch long ago.
But unfortunately so many business owners are not paying attention. And as a result, they are not succeeding with marketing. They are wasting time and money — and lots of it.
The shift requires marketing tactics that come more from “teacher” than from “sales” — meaning more “education” in your marketing instead of “buy this” in your marketing. And if you want to market properly, you need to understand why this is happening and how to make the switch and become a teacher.
So Why the Shift?
In my opinion, the shift toward education has happened as a result of the following two reasons:
1. Social Media
One thing I don’t think anyone expected with social media is the indirect impact it has had on marketing. Not direct impact per se — certainly it HAS been an important piece of that for most businesses, but the indirect impact I am talking about is the influence buyers have on one another — often known as referral marketing.
Many buyers in lieu of responding to advertisements will take their needs to social media, garnering input from friends and family, as well as reading online reviews from peers who have used these companies before.
Proof of this is the Yellow Pages. They had to change their paradigm, as a result, or they were going to be put out of business. Think about it. No longer do people pull out a phone book and search by categories for numbers to call. They turn to their friends. This caused Yellow Pages to make a major online push just to save their business.
Honestly, if you are not in marketing, you may not have picked up on this one. Bottom line, in my opinion, Google’s algorithm drives more cultural changes in the world than anything. It drives your perception on politics, it drives your perception on products, and it drives your perception on approaches to marketing. And what Google prefers over anything right now is educational content.
Think about it. Statistics shows us that most people when searching Google don’t go beyond the 1st page of the Google results. With that said, what Google feels is most relevant to your search, you will see.
Over the past few years, Google has changed their algorithm to promote the kind of content they feel is most valuable to you. Whether you like it or not, they affect what you read on particular topics.
Want to learn more about a particular political figure? You will only see articles Google deems as most relevant. Want to know more about a topic or product? You see what Google puts on page one. Don’t believe me? Read this article about the upcoming change with Panda 4.2.
The fact of the matter is that these changes aren’t a fad that’s going away. People want to be more educated BEFORE they make purchases, and therefore, it requires a new way to market if you want to be successful.
How Should Your Company Respond to These Changes?
If you are a business owner or an employee responsible for your company’s marketing, it’s critical you develop a new strategy to become the leading teacher in your market if you want to make the most of your marketing investment. Making content that is educational vs. “salesy” is not as hard as you may think. Here are a few things to remember that will point you in the right direction:
It’s important to think about this interaction with people as you would any relationship. If you were going on a first date, you wouldn’t say, “Hi, my name is Matt. Do you want to get married?” With that said, the first thing businesses should realize is that they’re beginning a relationship and need to start the conversation from their prospective client’s point of view. And normally, an interaction can occur because the prospective clients are seeking a solution to a problem.
I often say people don’t buy a product or service. They’re buying a solution to a problem. THAT’S what people are willing to spend money on.
Sometimes, when you are an expert in your field, you are able to see a problem BEFORE the prospective client can. If that is the case, you are able to help them realize they have a problem that needs to be addressed. This is a great place to start a “teacher / student” relationship.
Other times, people can KNOW they have a problem and decide they want to seek out a solution to that problem.
Either way, talking about the problem in your marketing will relate to people better and allow you to begin a conversation. It is also a great way to be found when your prospective clients are out looking to be educated.
In your marketing activities, talk about HOW you solve problems. In other words, what the prospective clients are looking for is a solution to their problem, so JUST GIVE IT TO THEM.
In the “old days”, people were nervous to show how they fix problems. They were worried they were giving away too much for free. Now, with the internet, there are more free answers than you can shake a stick at. Therefore, if you aren’t going to give them the answer they are looking for, then they will go elsewhere to find it.
I always tell people that if you are offering answers on how to solve a problem, and they take it and decide to do it on their own instead of hiring you to do it for them, then they were not your ideal client. That’s because they probably wouldn’t see the value in you charging them to solve it — meaning you would have an unhappy client.
Those “ideal clients” are ones that say, “Now I understand the best way to solve this, but… (I would not do it right, or I would not take the time, etc.). Most people know how to make a pizza, but why are pizza places so busy on a Friday night? For the reasons I just stated.
When you educate your prospective clients on how you solve the problem, you will begin to attract the right type of clients for your business.
We talk a lot about the buyer’s journey in our business. It’s something that most marketing companies don’t address enough (in my opinion).
Buyers go through a similar process every time they make a purchasing decision. And there are stages to this process, and a buyer will never skip a stage.
When you know the buyer’s process, you know the ORDER in which to educate the buyer.
Here are the stages we use:
- Awareness – first a buyer must be aware they have a problem. You could have the best solution in the world, but a buyer won’t be interested if he/she doesn’t feel they have a problem.
- Determine Need – once a buyer understands they have a problem, they must feel they need to address it. If not, they will never seek a solution
- Sense of Urgency – a buyer then must have a sense of urgency to fix the problem. We won’t do anything until we have a sense of urgency to do so.
- Match Capabilities – here is where a buyer is ready to hear how you solve the problem.
- Evaluate Choices – a buyer wants to understand all his/her choices which may also mean other solutions not from you.
- Resolve Final Risk – buyers are always wanting to limit their risk. Before they make a buying decision, they always ask themselves “will I regret this decision if I proceed”.
I certainly will write more about the buyer’s process in future posts, but understanding that buyers go through this will really help you educate your buyer in the RIGHT way.
As much as you may want to, pushing the conversation toward sales BEFORE the buyer is ready to have that conversation is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, in today’s world, it creates distrust.
Instead, to help the prospective client more, offer them additional help in stages. Similar to how after a successful first date, you don’t ask them to marry you, don’t push your education too quickly. Recognize what their next step (need) may be and offer them just that.
Track their steps by automation so you will learn which prospective clients are moving themselves through your education process by using “calls to action”. Calls to action literally means “I invite you to take the next step here”. Make the process simple and don’t ask them to do too much. The more value you offer them in this “next step” the more likely they will take it, but make sure it’s only the next logical step for them.
I get it. So what’s next?
So now you understand how marketing has changed, and you know you need to as well. You realize the key is to educate your prospective clients to help them understand their problems and how you can solve them better than anyone else. There is only one thing to say now.
You can do this!
It’s not as hard as it may seem. The key is to put yourself in their shoes and think how you would like to be treated and do that.
No one wants to take advantage of you and what you know. But everyone wants to understand WHY they should hire you. Give them what they need.
Another point to realize. This whole process takes time. You will not see results right away and you cannot push people too hard. Let them go at their own pace. Just poke them along the way with the right tactics.
Now for my “call to action” for you.
If this information struck a nerve with you and you would like to have a conversation with me about your marketing, I am offering a FREE, no obligation 30-minute phone conversation to discuss your business.
Here’s who this is for:
- If you understand what you need to do, but just still have questions. I would be glad to offer you any advice I can over a 30-minute call.
- If you would like to talk strategy I would be glad to learn more about your business and help steer you in the right direction.
- If you want to learn more about how we do this for our clients. I can certainly spend the time to explain this as well.
Just fill out the form below and let me know how I can help. If you want to take advantage of the 30-minute call, make sure you let me know that as well.
Hope this “education” has been helpful
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