Marketing has changed rapidly over the last few years. For many businesses, the same old marketing strategies they have always used aren't working anymore, and they find themselves at a loss as to what to do.
One of the reasons businesses are confused is because they don't understand how buyers have changed.
While it was once enough to put up a brochure-type website and talk about your company and the products or services you offer, that doesn't work anymore! Also, those old sales tactics may not be working either. So, if you want your business to grow and need to know how to make that happen, read on. So, why don't these websites and sales tactics work anymore? Because buyers want more today.
Understanding The Buyer Today
Buyers are looking for information to help them make better decisions, and the internet is the place they can get it. They can research products, watch videos on how products work, read blog articles about those products, find suppliers and read reviews. And, the same goes for services.
In other words, buyers want information to help them along the buyer's journey, ultimately leading to a purchase.
Customers typically go through three stages during the buyer process: awareness, consideration and decision:
- Awareness: In this stage, customers become aware of a product or service, often through marketing efforts or their own research.
- Consideration: Customers evaluate their options and consider different products or services that meet their needs or solve their problems.
- Decision: At this stage, customers make a choice and decide which specific product or service to purchase based on their evaluation and preferences.
Take a look at this telling statistic, according to Hubspot:
- Only 19% of buyers want to connect with a salesperson during the awareness stage of their buying process (when buyers are first learning about the product).
- A whopping 60% would rather connect with sales during the consideration stage, after they have researched options and narrowed down their choices.
Here’s more proof consumers want information:
- Seven in 10 B2B buyers watch a video at some point during the buying process.
- 70% of purchasing decisions are made to solve a specific problem.
- 71% of B2B buyers begin their research with a generic search. That means they’re looking for a specific product or service - not for you.
- Today’s buyers do not contact a seller until they are more than halfway through the purchase process.
Providing information about a service or product can also help you gain the trust of consumers. One study, in fact, found that 70% of millennials trust brands with videos about their products more than those that provide no videos at all. Why is this important? According to Google, nearly 50% of all buyers are millennials.
Here’s one final statistic to get you to start thinking about how you do business. Only 3% of buyers trust reps (Hubspot). The only professions with less credibility? Car sales, politics and lobbying.
Companies that have shifted from intensively relying on cold prospecting to improving on inbound tactics and lead nurturing are more competitive in the marketplace and win more clients.
Analyzing Your Current Marketing and Sales
If you are thinking that your marketing and sales are lacking at this point, then it's time to make some changes. But first, let's look at what buyers want from you.
According to HubSpot, here are the top ways buyers want you to create a positive sales experience:
- Listen to their needs (69%)
- Don’t be pushy (61%)
- Provide relevant information (61%)
- Respond in a timely manner (51%)
Armed with this information, where do you start? Here is what we recommend:
1. Evaluate Your Website
This is the best place to start. Your website should be used as a marketing tool to generate new leads, engage customers or provide solutions and answers to customer problems. If it isn't doing that, then you are missing out on the opportunity to capture leads from people who are looking for the solutions you provide.
When evaluating your current website, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Does my website take a long time to load?
- If I were a visitor to my website, would I be confused about what my company does?
- Is my website focused on telling visitors about my products or services?
- Does my website tell visitors how good my company is?
- Is my website designed to showcase my company like a bright, shiny brochure?
If you answered "Yes" to these questions, then it is time to do a redesign. And, you will need help to do it.
Usually, when businesses look to redesign their website, they hire a web designer to do the work. But there is one important factor that goes into redesigning a website that web designers are usually not good at...messaging.
If the messaging on your website doesn't resonate with your visitors, they will not engage, or become a lead or eventually a customer.
You can learn more by reading our article, Web Designer or Marketing Agency - Who Is Better To Create My Website?
2. Assess Your Lead Generation
It is important to take a hard look at your current marketing strategy that generates your leads. This is where we find that businesses often struggle, and for a sales team to flourish and a business to be profitable, it needs a steady stream of quality leads. After all, qualified business leads are the lifeblood of any organization.
In fact, according to HubSpot, 63% of companies say that generating qualified leads is their biggest marketing challenge.
Over the past few years, inbound marketing has become an increasingly popular tactic for companies to generate leads. The number of companies that use inbound marketing view it as a success not only because of its ability to generate leads, but it also establishes you as an authority in your industry.
Inbound marketing agencies create custom lead generation techniques that should be used as part of your strategy. This plan includes specific and measurable objectives.
According to HubSpot, 68% of inbound marketers believe their organization's marketing strategy is effective, while 52% of outbound marketers do not think their strategy is effective.
But, no matter how good your marketing efforts are, they are wasted if your salespeople never follow up with marketing leads.
According to SalesForce, 79% of all marketing leads are never converted to sales. And, Operatix reports that 65% of customers are lost because of indifference, not because of mistakes.
Your sales and marketing efforts must work together; otherwise, potential opportunities are lost. Marketers need to understand which leads convert in the sales funnel so they can alter campaigns. Sales teams need marketers to help write great nurturing content along the funnel to help move prospects down. Without these two teams working cohesively, prospects are forgotten and opportunities are lost.
You can read more about why an inbound marketing agency may be right for your company in our article, Should Businesses Hire Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Companies?
3. Determine If You Are Offering Value
Because buyers are looking for information to help them make better decisions, you need to evaluate whether you are offering anything of value for them to make those decisions.
One important way to determine whether you are offering value to your customers is to analyze your marketing plan. If you don’t have a marketing plan, you may be in trouble. One study showed that businesses that plan grow 30% faster, while another study showed 71% of fast-growing companies have plans.
One important component of that plan is the content you offer to potential customers. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I provide blog articles that educate potential prospects?
- Do I have any downloadable content, such as eBooks and case studies, where I can get their contact information?
- Does my website provide clear solutions that solve my potential customers' problems?
- Do I have a strong presence on social media platforms and know which social media channels my potential customers use?
- Am I on top of how this content is best delivered today, such as video marketing, blogging, social media posts and podcasts?
If you answered "No" to these questions, then you have some work to do.
It all comes down to content and lots of it. With inbound marketing, the idea is to put customers first by providing information that is truly valuable to them. Developing and publishing relevant content allows companies to look beyond their own products and services to focus on the topics related to their market that customers truly care about.
This can include everything from simple tips and how-tos to industry commentary and answers to frequently asked questions. The goal is that when people search for information around these areas online, they find you and your business.
Why does this matter? Because the internet and Google have changed things.
“Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.” (Source: Internet Live Stats)
And, you can bet that some of those searches are relevant to your products and services.
Developing A New Marketing Strategy
Marketing today is more challenging than ever, so developing a marketing strategy can be difficult. A modern marketing strategy requires lots of elements:
- Collateral development and production
- Content development specialists
- Email programs
- Graphic artists
- Market research
- Marketing software
- Metrics/data analysts
- Mobile marketing specialists
- PR specialists
- SEO/keyword research
- Social media specialists
- Special events
- Website development/re-engineering
The question that businesses need to ask themselves is...Do we have the knowledge and staff to develop and implement a new marketing strategy on our own?
If the answer is "No," then you have to consider whether it is worth hiring more employees or an outside agency.
The learning curve for employees and small business owners with little experience can be staggering. And it often leaves your business owner with a vastly incomplete marketing strategy that is missing key elements, such as blog posts, social media marketing or a site filled with ugly graphics.
Hiring experienced marketing services can offer many benefits, including:
- Expertise and specialization: Experienced agencies bring specialized knowledge and skills, ensuring a comprehensive and effective marketing strategy.
- Efficiency: Agencies can work efficiently, saving time and resources for your business.
- Diverse skill set: Marketing agencies offer a diverse skill set that includes various components of marketing, from blogging to running social media accounts, graphic design, SEO expertise, marketing automation, analytics and data, advertising and public relations.
- Scalability: Marketing agencies can scale their efforts up or down to match your business needs, making it easier to adapt to changing circumstances and growth.
- Industry insights: Agencies often have insights into industry trends and market dynamics, which can inform and optimize your marketing strategy as it must evolve over time.
- Time savings: Outsourcing your marketing to experienced agencies allows you to focus more on running and growing your business, since they will handle the complexities of marketing. This will free up not only your time and resources, but those of the team you already have in place.
Believe it or not, hiring an outside agency is also typically cheaper than doing it in-house. A comprehensive marketing plan includes many components, each of which require its own set of skills to accomplish effectively. That may mean hiring several different positions on your staff to put into place a winning strategy. By working with a marketing agency, you can often save on the expenses associated with hiring and maintaining a full in-house marketing team while still benefiting from their expertise and resources.
You can see why in our article, Why Should I Hire A Marketing Agency For My Small Business?
Insiders know that keeping up with sales and marketing trends and techniques is a must if you want to be a leader in your industry and effectively market your business. But, this takes time and effort.
Those companies that recognize that they need help and understand that it is more efficient and less costly to hire an expert marketing agency to do this for them are the ones that are meeting their goals and guaranteeing their long-term success.
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!