Perhaps you’ve already noticed the big paradigm shift in the marketing world, and you’ve been working on figuring out how your company is going to take advantage of it. Maybe you have not yet understood the sea change that’s been going on, and you’re wondering why your marketing efforts have not been as successful as they used to be.
Either way, the reality is that the marketing paradigm really has shifted. This is especially true in the B-to-B world, and it’s also the case in many sectors of the B-to-C world as well. So what is this paradigm shift? What exactly has changed? Here is the deal:
- The way that your prospective customers approach the buying process has changed
- The technologies available for reaching prospective customers have changed
- Lead generation and lead nurturing have changed
- And marketing best practices have changed in response to these conditions
In this article, we will discuss these changes, and what direction your business needs to take to leverage this new marketing paradigm and close more sales.
But before we go any further, there’s something that needs to be made crystal clear: These new marketing methods are all “additive” to the traditional marketing methods that you are probably using now. They’re not a replacement. Even in the new marketing paradigm you still need to continue your branding activities, and have high levels of creativity in place to catch your prospects’ attention.
So What’s the Difference?
As Steve Jobs famously said, your company needs to “market, innovate or die.” To help you do that, let’s compare the old marketing paradigm to the new one.
In the past, the buying process that most customers followed was one that developed because of information scarcity. If a prospect was considering buying a product or service like yours, he had to rely on your sales people to educate him about your offering.
So it’s no surprise that in this world of information scarcity, lead generation was very much an “outbound” effort. Marketers bought, begged or bugged their way in the door with print ads, direct mail, cold calls, PR and commissioned salespeople. The main focus was on intrusive outreach techniques designed to set sales meetings with prospective customers, so that the sales people could educate the prospect and, hopefully, close the sale.
Today, however, information scarcity is history. A vast array of educational resources are now easily found online. Which means that today’s buyer takes a very different approach to the purchase decision than yesterday’s buyer did. Before they even speak to a sales person, most of your prospects will go online and do their own research. They’ll learn about your product category in general, and about both your products and your competitors’ products in specific.
In fact, studies show that prospects will gather 65 to 90% of their decision-making information before their first contact with your salesperson. They’ll gather their information, sift through it, digest it, and then contact your firm to either ask further questions or complete the sale.
So it’s no surprise that in a recent national survey, 80% of customers said “we found them” – referring to the product or service vendor, rather than “they found us.” Lead generation has shifted from being a primarily “outbound” effort to being a primarily “inbound” effort.
Content is Now King
In this new marketing paradigm, marketers essentially “earn their way in the door” by publishing helpful information. Consequently, content is now king.
For considered purchases, the reality is the buying cycle can be quite long. To thrive in this new marketing environment you need to provide the information that prospects are looking for and require. Today lead generation and lead nurturing are all about quality educational content.
Since buyers are now actively seeking information, so to build awareness and an affinity for your brand you need to conveniently provide high-quality marketing pieces that give prospects the information they are looking for at various points in their research process. Providing high-quality educational content – such as articles, white papers, videos, case studies and more – as part of your marketing efforts, will help you become a trusted resource to your prospects.
In fact, research has demonstrated that prospective customers are more likely to buy from and feel better about companies that are producing valuable content that educates them during the decision-making process.
Quality content (not sales materials) is key to nurturing potential buyers and building relationships so as to earn their business when they are ready to buy. Although this new marketing paradigm does not apply for impulse buys, content marketing can be vital for any company that has a long knowledge cycle and/or a long sales cycle. Educational content is today’s fuel for your marketing engine.
So how do you leverage this new inbound and content-based marketing paradigm to capture and nurture leads and close more sales? Check out Creating Effective marketing Content Efficiently and The 5 Secrets of Content Driven Sales to learn more.
If you have any questions about the art of content-driven marketing, call Total Spectrum at 714.637.3600 today and speak to a content development expert. We have the knowledge and experience to deliver top-quality content to fit any budget.