I’d like to follow up last week’s rant about words with a parable:
Last spring, my family bought a dog. She’s an Olde English Bulldogge (yes it’s really spelled that way), which means that while she’s really sweet and loving, she looks like mix between a pit bull and those dogs in the Hunger Games. I think she’s beautiful and cute (in fact her name, Astrid, means beautiful goddess), but I can see how she might be a little intimidating to someone who didn’t know her.
This is just fine for my wife, who stays at home with my kids. She loves knowing that any baddie wanting to mess with her or the boys is going to think twice once they see Astrid grinning up at them. In fact, she takes full advantage of this forty-pound security system whenever a salesperson comes to the door. She opens the door, but not the screen, and watches blithely as the hawker stumbles through their pitch, sweating and stammering as they watch Astrid bark and pound on the door. In truth, my dog just wants to give them a big kiss, but my wife doesn’t tell them that.
So now, time for the point (beyond just bragging about my awesome dog): when was the last time you ever bought anything from a door-to-door salesperson?
Sure, it may occasionally happen, but I think by and large, most of us have been ruined for door-to-door salesfolk by the Internet age. Especially for the big stuff (like encyclopedias).
We live in a world now where information is always (and in many cases literally) at our finger tips. We don’t need to buy anything blindly and we certainly don’t need to take the salesperson’s word on it. There are usually hundreds or thousands of resources online we can use to find the right product or service and at any given time, there are countless conversations going on.
If you’re trying to sell something (like disaster recovery, for instance), you need to get a head of that. You need to control the conversation. This doesn’t mean shouting, or flooding the market with vilifying smears against your competition. It means engaging in the creation of thoughtful, honest, and well-researched content. Sometimes that content is just your elevator pitch, or the presentation you make to potentail clients. Other times, it’s blog posts, comments on client blogs, or even links through your Facebook or Twitter accounts. And sometimes you need to just sit down and write a case study or a best practices guide, or make a movie or Web-based presentation.
The point is that when someone decides it’s time to work with you, it’s probably not going to be the result of a single point of contact anymore. Steven Woods, co-founder of Eloqua, put it like this (you can download his full article here; you have enter your info, but I think it’s a pretty helpful article):
A purchase is the culmination of a well choreographed series of messaging, campaigns, and collateral that—over time—collectively guide the prospective buyer through education and discovery.
In the future, I’ll talk more about how to execute a content campaign, but for now, I’ll leave you the vision of my mean and ferocious (and cute and cuddly) dog snarling at you as you stand at your clients’ metaphorical doors and remind you that there is another way. You can be in control and increase your sales by creating trust in your brand and confidence in your expertise and these days, content is a crucial part of that.