Let’s start with a question to answer this question…
How often do you buy a service from someone you’ve met for the first time?
I reckon the percentage is pretty small. And usually it’s because:
- It’s not the right time OR
- You don’t know, like or trust the person enough.
However, I find that many small businesses owners get really frustrated that their ad hoc press ad or leaflet drop hasn’t worked. For sure, advertising and marketing can be expensive, BUT you have to set realistic goals and understand how your target customer makes their buying decisions. And more often than not, you’ll need to make contact with someone a lot more than once before they open their wallet.
Despite this, many small businesses continue to rely on “buy now” marketing. Their enquires run dry, they panic and address the problem by launching an advertising campaign designed to attract some hot leads.
And sure, this reactive approach will get results – but if it’s your main form of advertising, you’re missing a HUGE trick.
That’s because proactive marketing can be far more effective at attracting a constant stream of fresh enquiries to your business. And the way to do that is to use relationship building or content marketing.
Let me explain…
Buy now v slow burn
Buy now advertising usually relies on traditional interruption marketing techniques – for example, PPC ads, leaflets and billboards.
The problem is, as consumers, we’re more immune to this approach. After all, people don’t want to be sold to – they want the freedom and space to make informed decisions in their own time.
In comparison, content marketing is non-invasive. And most importantly it doesn’t rely on a one-off, desperate attempt to close the deal! Instead it promotes the regular publication of useful, relevant and interesting content to build a relationship (over time) with the right type of person.
Sure you’ve got to be patient. BUT here’s what happens. Instead of your marketing efforts heading for the bin, you’ll find you can open discussion with people. What’s more, if you can solve problems, entertain and enter the conversations already happening in your prospects head you’ll draw people to you through choice.
And yes, it can take longer to convert someone BUT it works. And here are three reasons why:
- You become a welcome guest.
- You’ll build your know, like, trust factor.
- And, when your customer is ready to buy, (hopefully) you’ll be front of mind.
This approach is NOT new…
Very rarely is a one-shot approach enough. And this understanding is nothing new. Check out this great article written by Thomas Smith way back in 1885. Yes, it may be 120 years old, but it’s highly relevant now and sheds some light on why content marketing is such a great strategy to adopt.
- The first time people look at any ad they don’t even see it
- The second time, they don’t notice it
- The third time, they are aware that it is there.
- The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before
- The fifth time, They actually read the ad.
- The sixth time, they thumb their nose at it
- The seventh time, they start to get irritated by it.
- The eighth time, they start to think “here’s that confounded ad again“
- The ninth time, they start to wonder if they may be missing out on something.
- The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbours if they have tried it.
- The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for these ads.
- The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
- The thirteenth time, they start to think the product has value.
- The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time
- The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
- The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy some in the future.
- The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product
- The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
- The nineteenth time, they count their money carefully.
- The twentieth time, prospects see the ad, they buy what is offered.
To summarise, the underpinning message is make more contact, follow-up more times and increase your chances of a prospect becoming a customer.
How to apply this in practice?
The key to making this approach work for you is to look at the different stages of your sales funnel – and then figure out what content is needed to move people further along. For example, you could:
- Attract your ideal customer with compelling blog content.
- Capture prospect contact details with a free eBook.
- Stay on their radar, follow-up and nurture the relationship with an auto responder.
- Convert prospects to customers through direct mail containing a “no-brainer” offer.
- Encourage repeat business by staying in touch with printed newsletters.
In truth there is stacks you could try. You simply need to take a fresh look at your approach. And whilst content creation can be hard work, you’ll find that, done well, you’ll create a framework that makes the selling much easier.
What do you think?
How do you focus on attracting the right customer? How have you used content marketing to grow your business? What strategies have worked for you? Please let me know in the comments below.