Branding, Content, and the Sales Pitch: Finding the Right Balance

 
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The temptation to hammer your audience with a peppy sales pitch when you’re trying to write content can be hard to overcome. Marketers are supposed to market, right? So why shouldn’t we be screaming Buy! Buy! Buy! like freakshow carnival barkers?

Oh, wait, that’s actually the answer. Yikes.

Aggressiveness is out. Instead of demanding action from your customers, you have to give them answers to entice your customers to come to you. What you use to attract them determines the quality and longevity of your relationship.

Why We Had to Kill Frank…

Imagine you live on a cul-de-sac in a quiet suburban neighborhood—that is, until a new neighbor moves in. You know it’s going to get ugly when a panel truck with an LED display offering a miracle health product pulls into the driveway.

But, being the good neighbor you are, you bake a nice casserole and go over to introduce yourself. Your new neighbor Frank tells you all about how you can earn money by selling his miracle product…and all about how the pyramid scheme works. You buy a jar of miraclestuff to be polite and excuse yourself.

The next morning, Frank is at your door. He hands you a single flower from his garden, invites himself to breakfast, and tells you more about the product and the pyramid. Frank doesn’t care what you want, he only cares about selling you so he can make more money.

You’re forced to choose your own adventure: You can either kill Frank or put your house on the market and move to Tucson.

Pushy, one-way relationships were common in the early days of the Web. Intrusive banner ads, aggressive popups, spammariffic emails…

The good news? Technology killed Frank. We’re all very happy about it.

Moving to Tucson

Marketers had to find something more effective than Frank InYourFace—and the growing popularity of blogging and social media provided the perfect vehicle. For the first time, business owners and marketers had a forum to talk about solutions, issues, and pain points…all things your customer is interested in. And it worked.

Don’t worry, you still get to brand your business and sell your product. It’s just a more organic process today. A good relationship involves trust and rapport. Understand your customer’s needs and provide answers. They will remember your brand. Loyalty is human nature.

Making an Impression

Consider what you want people to think of your brand. Do you want to be seen as a thought leader? A company concerned about sustainable products? The manufacturer of the best widget available on the market? The low-price leader?

If you build your content around your desired image, you reinforce your brand and company values with every piece of content—WITHOUT selling. Your website should be filled with quality information about you, your company culture, your products, and your customers. That’s your branding. Authentic reinforcement of your message.

The Selling Part

You’re going to have to cut to the chase and promote some sales copy, and you don’t have to betray the trust you’ve built to do so. Make it relevant and timely and your customers won’t want to hit you with a shovel.

3 softer-selling secrets:

  1. Get Personal. Even with all the changes in delivery, the basic principles of marketing still hold true. The amazing depth of information you can gather on customers and their behavior eliminates the guesswork. You can send an offer so personal and timely it’s hard to resist:

“Dear Elizabeth, Last year, you told us you loved the yellow duckie raincoat and matching umbrella for your 3-year-old daughter. It’s almost rainy season again, and we thought you might like our outstanding selection of Dora the Explorer raingear in just the right size. We even have a matching backpack! It’s all on sale this week. Oh, and while Dora is the best-selling choice for girls her age, we also have a big selection of alternative characters, prints and solids, all on sale right now.”

  1. Weave Your Selling Point into Valuable Advice. Basic Selling 101: Identify a pain point (like the coming rainy season in the example above) and offer a solution. Your content marketing goals aren’t just to sell an item, but to be so useful and full of great ideas that your customers will come back just for the edutainment.
  1. Ask for Opinions and Advice. Customers love to give input and to be heard, so don’t be afraid to ask—then make changes based on their answers.

Back to Frank

Imagine your new neighbor, Frank, moves in without fanfare. You take over a casserole, introduce yourself, and exchange pleasantries. He invites you over, grills steaks, and pours a few beers. You become friends.

Over the course of the friendship, Frank never asks you to become involved or tries to sell you product, but you do notice how healthy and energetic he is. You ask, and he tells you he likes to get plenty of rest and exercise, along with a healthy diet including a special supplement.

A few months later, a different friend mentions he’s looking for a side business, something he can really believe in. He mentions he’s been slowing down lately, feeling run down and tired. You find yourself telling him all about Frank. While you’re talking, you wonder if that supplement would make you feel as energetic as Frank feels. You decide to ask Frank if you can buy a bottle of his supplement.

That’s how content marketing works.

 
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Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Want to learn more about effective content marketing? Whether you decide to outsource content marketing or not, this eBook is chock-full of great information on content marketing. Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how content marketing can help you ramp up your website and complete your marketing strategy.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Increase Your Referral Rate
  • Increase Your Social Media Reach
  • Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
  • Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
  • Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource
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Motivational Monday: Trust Yourself

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Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do. –Dr. Benjamin Spock

You know your brand. You know your customers. Sometimes we get so caught up in viewing analytics, theorizing and strategizing that we spin ourselves into agitation. Just like Dr. Spock’s advice to frenzied new parents: sometimes you just have to step back, take a deep breath and realize you know what you’re doing. You’ve got this.

Understanding your customers, really getting to know them, and connecting with them on a personal level (rather than relying solely on data) will help you convey a clear message and speak to those customer in a voice they understand. Arming yourself with the latest info on content marketing and branding strategies can help.

It can be hard not to second guess yourself, especially when your company, your money and your reputation are on the line, but don’t allow doubt to creep in. Keep up on the latest trends and industry information and stay focused on your vision—it will drive you in the right direction every time.

  • We can learn a great deal from industry leaders. One thing that these success stories have in common? When doubt crept in, they trusted themselves and kept their focus to lead on toward success.

 
Trust in yourself, but if you need some direction on your marketing strategy, be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn or subscribe below to receive Motivational Monday updates in your inbox each week.

 

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Fertilize Your Mind Weekly Marketing Updates

Marketing creativity is the ability to tap into our mental pool of resources — knowledge, information, insight, stats, examples — and combine them in unique ways. The larger the library of creative building blocks, the more visionary your ideas will grow to be.

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Motivational Monday: Doubted & Tested

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If you want to be successful, be prepared to be doubted and tested.

How does a brand “prove” itself? Flashy marketing tools? Backing claims with metrics? Customer analytics and retention data? A/B testing every communiqué? Customers who walk around smiling all the time?

Truth be told, it’s a combination of all of the above with a healthy dose of consistency. Customers need to know what to expect and how your value is delivered, plus they should be able to rely on you time and time again…and few good surprises and the occasional wow factor doesn’t hurt either.

So how do you get there? Build your reputation by doing what you do best, time and time again. Offer your customers stability. Grow your brand and company steadily, in a trajectory you can support and maintain. Have an infrastructure to support your needs and keep customers loyal to your brand by monitoring their happiness and satisfaction.

  • Customers can see through buzzwords and jargonese. Show your relatability by avoiding internal language—it drives away customers.
  • Improve your website by monitoring traffic and getting a handle on what’s drawing in customers and what isn’t. Use a heat map to discover what’s working on your site and what’s being ignored.
  • Knowing your customers can help you understand what’s important to them and how to best hold their interest over time. To be successful, pay attention to these 10 customer metrics.
  • Help your customers, and you will stay top of mind. This means sending them information they find relevant, avoiding digital pollution, and being there for each customer when they need your services.
  • Believe it or not, price isn’t necessarily the deciding factor when it comes to brand loyalty. Engage your customers, offer value and keep your reputation for quality. Showing your appreciation to your customers and making personal connections will keep them coming back time and time again.

For ongoing tips for passing your customers’ tests and doubts, be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn or subscribe below to receive Motivational Monday updates in your inbox each week.

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Fertilize Your Mind Weekly Marketing Updates

Marketing creativity is the ability to tap into our mental pool of resources — knowledge, information, insight, stats, examples — and combine them in unique ways. The larger the library of creative building blocks, the more visionary your ideas will grow to be.

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How Powerful Brand Storytelling Can Supplement Direct Mail

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Direct mail can be a powerful tool, but not if it’s thrown in the trash without consideration. The best way to keep your direct mail campaign out of the garbage is to earn the trust of your recipients. Powerful brand storytelling is the best way to do that. With the right story, readers will care—and they’ll be interested in your message.

Your brand story is built from the ground up. Here’s how…

Start with Brand Recognition

The first boost to your direct mail campaign comes from simple name, logo and branding recognition. Consistency is absolutely key to building brand recognition. You might send different types of mail, but your logo and branding should be visible and prominent on any mailing.

Customers who know who you are and already view your company in a positive light will be less likely to trash your mail. Perhaps they’ve already been to your website and signed up for an offer. Perhaps they’ve purchased your products or services before. Perhaps you interacted at a trade show. Brand recognition helps you tell your brand story, mainly because it’s the key to getting that direct mail piece in the door and in front of more eyes, unlike “cold call” mail.

Speak to Your Customers—and Your Customer Service

One of the most important services you can offer is fast, friendly customer service. Never underestimate the power of a helpful smiling face or an earnest friendly voice. Your customers are where your brand story starts, because so many great customer stories stem from great customer service.

Great customer stories are often the most powerful brand stories a smaller company can have—and one of the best ways to beat the competition. Build brand loyalty and make prospects and customers alike feel included in your direct mail initiative by telling stories about how you’ve helped people just like them.

Highlight Your Company—and Your Company Culture

Your brand story should be about your company as well—and your people: who you are, how you treat your employees, the history of your company, even your location. It’s the details that pull in your customers and help them get to know and trust your business. Loyal customers aren’t just a faceless mailing list, they are people who care about you, your company, your mission, and your brand.

If you know your customers, you know what’s important to them. Your story should touch on these points. Will your customers respond to green energy initiatives? Support of a political party? How about perks for your employees? Your technical innovations? Find the elements of the way you do business that will most likely appeal to your clients and make them part of your brand story. Customers want to do business with companies they feel good about.

Showcase Your Products & Services

Your customers have certain expectations, and chances are, they can buy what you’re selling somewhere else. Direct mail should showcase your products and services in the best possible light—with stunning, colorful graphics that reinforce your brand story.

No matter what you’re selling, you probably face some stiff competition. If your prices aren’t low enough to write home about, your brand story has to be impressive enough to gain a place in your customers’ hearts.

Powerful brand storytelling sets you apart, forges an emotional connection with your customers, and makes your brand uppermost in your customers’ minds when they think of your products and services or see your mailing. Tell a compelling story and you’ll reap the benefits of getting more eyes on your direct mail piece—and more leads in your sales funnel.

 

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Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Brand storytelling is an integral part of an effective marketing strategy. Want to learn more about effective content marketing? Whether you decide to outsource content marketing or not, this eBook is chock-full of great information on content marketing. Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how content marketing can help you ramp up your website and complete your marketing strategy.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Increase Your Referral Rate
  • Increase Your Social Media Reach
  • Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
  • Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
  • Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource
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Sell Without Selling: How Your Brand Story Pays Off

Brand story. You’ve probably been hearing this phrase a lot these days—but if you’re a business that packages mulch or sells cement for commercial real estate construction, you’re probably scratching your head and thinking, “Story? I make powder that builders use to make concrete. What kind of story is that?”

But your story isn’t about what you do, or even about what your product is. Your brand story is about HOW your product impacts your customer. Make your story about your customer and it’ll pay off big time.

Think about Ford trucks for a minute. Ford F Series trucks crush the competition. They have outsold every other truck for 37 years—and every other vehicle for 32.

Ford really understands their customers. They show their trucks as dirty, beat up, loaded down, plowing through a swamp, towing impossibly large objects. Their story is hard-working pride, and they tell it well. You don’t see Ford truck commercials advertising its cushy seats, fancy leather trim, or the Wi-Fi in the cab. Instead, they focus on power, control, and their ability to help their customers get the job done.

That’s storytelling for sales, and it works.

So about that cement? Cement is a strong foundation to build on. It’s the bedrock of American construction; a high quality foundation that stands the test of time. Your cement is more than just ground-up stuff, it has history. Tell a story that ties cement to the success of the United States. Where would we be without it? When you stop thinking about cement and start thinking about foundation, you have a dynamic, exciting story that captures the imagination.

 

Your Content: Make It All About Your Brand Story

Once you’ve fleshed out your brand story and how it connects to your customers, it’s important to ensure your story is consistent across your content marketing. Every page can build on the elements of your story.

Explore:

  • history,
  • use,
  • practical applications,
  • ideas,
  • and relationships with other products.

Sell Without Selling: How Your Brand Story Pays Off ... Because you can’t eat cookies without milk. In some cases, you might even partner with other companies.Because you can’t eat cookies without milk.

In some cases, you might even partner with other companies, like Ford and Hemi engines, or IBM and Intel processors. Give THAT a second or two of thought. Intel is a tiny circuit board, one of many inside computers. And it’s also a household name with a well-established brand identity. You’re not going to run out and buy a computer chip by itself (well, that’s true for most people, anyway) but knowing about Intel processors might influence your buying decision. It’s indirect, and it works.

 

Selling Without Selling

You may be wondering why you even need a brand story…and the answer is trust. Buying decisions, even in B2B, are based on relationships and trust. If you want to succeed, new sales are only part of the equation. Existing customers are your bread-and-butter over the long run.

After you’ve made that all-important first sale, it’s up to you to keep your customers engaged and interested. Not with in-your-face sales tactics, but by making your story something they want to be part of; something they want to share with their friends.

Ford knows that. As well-known as they are, they never stop reinforcing their brand story. Their iconic tagline, “Built Ford Tough” has been around for 36 years now, and they never deviate from a brand story that sells so well.

 

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Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Learn how to create a great content marketing strategy that showcases your brand story. Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how you can use storytelling as part of an effective marketing strategy.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Increase Your Referral Rate
  • Increase Your Social Media Reach
  • Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
  • Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
  • Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource

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