Many people involved with sales and business development will be used to picking up the phone to call prospects.
It’s an uncomfortable experience for all but the most thick skinned of salesmen, so it may come as a relief to be told that there’s a truth in what you’ve intuitively known all along – cold calling doesn’t work. And there’s a much easier, more effective alternative.
Build it and they will come
It’s called inbound marketing and it’s come about as a consequence of our increasing dependence on the internet to conduct research – a dependence that’s created the phenomenon of the self-sold customer.
The self-sold customer is the individual or business that’s used Google to help it compare and select service providers. Often, the first time you hear from a self-sold customer, it’s when they make contact to ask you ‘how much’.
Once you’ve defined who your customers are – see ‘Understand your customer before you sell to them’ – you can map out a digital marketing strategy that’ll help them see what you do and will ultimately drive them to your website.
Tip one: Produce content
Given that you want them to find you, rather than the other way round, the starting point is to produce content that’s relevant to your audience’s needs and load it to your website.
While it’s imperative that you have good product or service descriptions and case studies on your site, it’s the more complex content like industry guides that’ll lure people to you.
Tip two: Build an email database
This can be as simple as creating a popup that asks visitors to your website if they’d like to receive information from you.
If the content you produced in step one is good, chances are many will add their names to your list. And if you’ve invested in some really good content, you could require people to sign up in order to download it.
Once you have a database you can start mailing prospects ensuring your brand remains front of mind.
Tip three: Invest in SEO
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the name given to the practice of persuading Google that your website deserves to appear prominently on its results pages when your customers are looking for the type of product or service you offer.
It’s a tough thing to do, so the best advice is to focus on a limited number of terms you know your audience use and create dedicated landing pages for these – for example a B&B in Pretoria would be crazy to target the broad phrase ‘hotels’, but would have a decent chance to rank for ‘Guest houses in Irene’ – assuming that’s where it was located.
Tip four: Run a paid search campaign
Paying to advertise on Google is a great way to generate leads and gain business. Google offers most first time advertisers a R600 voucher when they initiate a campaign.
Tip five: Build your personal brand
That could mean speaking at conferences or doing what I’m doing right now and guest blogging (writing articles for websites your audience is likely to read). Yes, it does take a bit of time, but for the most part, conference organisers and publishers – especially in niches – welcome insights from people in the industries they cover.
Tip six: Create a prospects database
It’s an obvious but often overlooked step. By keeping a record of who contacts you, how they found you and how the sales cycle evolved, you’ll be better able to refine your future marketing activities.
Follow these six tips and you’ll drive customers who have an intent to buy from you to you instead of having to pick up the phone to try and convince them to talk to you and hear your sales pitch.