As different as they are in some ways, prospecting and marketing efforts have several things in common. One primary similarity is the potential to be either extremely helpful or irritatingly annoying.
The difference between the two comes down to one thing. Is the primary purpose of your message to benefit you (sell something), or is it to help your audience by educating them about an important topic?
Put yourself on the receiving end of the two types of messages. How often do you forward an obvious solicitation to a coworker as something they “really need to read?” Not very often if you want to remain friendly, do you? But how quick are you to share something you found insightful and informative?
Use marketing as part of a healthy strategy
In the insurance industry, agencies don’t widely use marketing as a strategy to keep their pipelines full, which becomes a significant contributing factor as to why so many agencies struggle to maintain healthy pipelines.
When you don’t include marketing as part of your growth strategy, your pipeline is left at the mercy of the highs and extreme lows that come with traditional prospecting. However, when executed properly, marketing keeps the pipeline full by drawing prospects to you out of curiosity. It also makes prospecting efforts more effective and efficient because you give them a reason to want to talk to you.
As we work with marketing clients, we focus on four pillars of marketing effectiveness:
- Strategic Execution
- Know Your Audience
- Content + Messaging
- Sales Enablement
I recently wrote about how important it is to know your audience and the benefits of sales enablement. Today, I'll address how content and messaging affect your marketing effectiveness.
Content and messaging
Nobody likes to be sold to. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t like to buy products and services. We just want to do it on our own terms and for our own reasons.
When it comes to the services you offer, your clients aren’t usually looking for a product from the very beginning. Chances are their search is the result of them becoming aware of a problem they need to correct.
In today’s online world, buyers start researching on their own. They are looking to educate themselves on possible solutions and partners who can help fix their problems.
Create content and messaging with brand clarity, the buyer’s journey, education, and strategy in mind, and you can illuminate a path that leads prospects to your doorstep.
There are two different types of brands—aspirational and organizational.
Your aspirational brand is what you want others to say after interacting with you. Creating a strong, clear, aspirational brand that is attractive to your audience opens them up to learning more about you and how you may help them.
Your organizational brand is like your personal reputation. You can’t choose whether you have one, and it is determined by the experience others have with you. However, brand clarity and positioning are among the most effective tools you have in creating differentiation and influencing the expectations others have of you.
Litmus test – You have a defined and documented aspirational brand and intentionally work it into your content and messaging.
Buyer’s Journey alignment
Every buyer goes through the buyer’s journey of:
- Awareness (“I have a problem”)
- Consideration (“I’m going to figure out how to fix this”)
- Decision (“I’ve chosen a partner/solution”)
Ensuring your presence at each step and guiding buyers to the next is at the core of effective content and messaging.
Litmus test - Our content starts people on the buyer’s journey and becomes their primary guide moving them from one phase of the journey to the next.
Educational and compelling
The most effective marketing messages focus on your target audience's needs and challenges. These messages should be educational in nature, not salesy, and provide so much value that you become seen as a resource they turn to time and again.
Litmus test - Our content is so educational and focused on the buyer's needs, our audience makes changes to their business based on the ideas and content we share.
Having quality content is a good start. The next critical step is to be intentional in how that content gets shared. It must be shared strategically and effectively through a variety of platforms and mediums that reach your target audience where they spend time. When done properly and consistently, this creates trust and familiarity, and, eventually, interested prospects will contact you.
Litmus test - We are omnipresent, often told by prospects, “You guys are EVERYWHERE!”
Content is a conversation
Admittedly, creating content is kind of hard. Creating quality content can be really hard. Creating quality content consistently can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Know your audience and put yourself in their seat. Create content from the same mindset as if you were having a casual conversation. Creating quality content consistently will take a bit of practice, but the ROI will more than make the effort worthwhile.
Photo by stunningart.