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.

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  • Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
  • Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
  • Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource
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Pro-Tips: How to Keep More Customers

It takes months to find a customer and only seconds to lose one.

It takes months to find a customer and only seconds to lose one.

Great customer service. It’s a buzz phrase we hear all the time—but are you really making the most of your customer relationships? Of course most of us are constantly thinking of ways to gain new customers, but holding onto existing customers (and wowing them!) can be even more important.

Not convinced? Harvard Business School notes that increasing customer retention by just 5% increases profits 25% to 95%. Whoa. Plus, 80% of companies proclaim they offer excellent customer service, but only 8% of their customers agreed. Yikes.

Here are a few ways to get on the same page with your customers and ensure you aren’t missing the customer retention boat.

  • Repeat customers are your goldmine. They’re less expensive than new customers, they spend more, and they’re your brand ambassadors.
  • Great customer service goes beyond simply offering something shiny to get them in the door—it’s about intuitively knowing and deeply understanding what they want, then delivering that consistently. To help you get inside your customers’ heads, here are 12 Books to Read If You Want to Understand Customers Better to add to your reading list.
  • Understanding your customers is one of the most powerful things you can do for customer retention. Do so by avoiding these 5 marketing mistakes.
  • If you feel like something is missing in your relationship, trust might be the key. Check out these great ways to establish, measure and build customer trust.
  • Still not convinced customer retention should be your focus? It’s Cheaper to Keep ‘Em—repeat customers literally pay for themselves.
  • Win the War on Customer Churn: While 55% of current marketing budgets are spent gaining new customers, there’s only a 5% to 20% chance of making a new sell. Yet there’s a 60% chance of a repeat sale…so WHY does customer retention only account for 12% of most marketing budgets?!
  • How do top B2B companies ensure customer retention and repeat business? These 3 important ways they wow their customers.

For ongoing ideas to hold onto your customers be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn.

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Growth Cycle Marketing: A proven process for growing and attracting more customersToday, the decision to buy is no longer a moment–it’s a process. Are you truly connecting with your prospects? Are you engaging with your customers before, during, and even after the sale? Download our FREE White Paper on Growth Cycle Marketing and you’ll learn:

  • 14 ways to engage your prospects to drive home the sale
  • How to influence your customer’s decision to buy
  • Why your current customers are your biggest asset
  • The exact type of content your prospects and customers want
  • How this proven, 5-stage process attracts new customers and grows your business
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Kill ‘em with Kindness: How to Get More Repeat Customers

Trust—it’s truly the secret to strong, lasting relationships with your customers. While you can’t buy trust or expect it to magically come about with little effort, trust-building is absolutely crucial to encouraging more repeat customers. You need a customer retention strategy designed to cultivate customer trust at every point in the buy cycle.

That’s why so many businesses offer repeat customer perks, such as loyalty cards, customer discounts, frequent flyer miles, and rewards programs. It’s all bait to lure customers back in for more. As long as you continue to deliver on your promises, customers will come back.

 Kill ‘em with Kindness: How to Get More Repeat Customers

Your best bet? Kill ‘em with kindness to earn enduring loyalty and to build customer trust.

Here’s how…

Be More than a Price Tag
As a small business, whether you’re selling a product or service, chances are pretty good you can’t offer a better price than big box stores unless you have an unbeatable business model. If you do try to compete exclusively on price, some company will find a way to undercut you and steal your customers. Add value by offering a unique add-on service or some other enticement to encourage repeat customers.

Take Dollar Shave Club, for example. They automatically deliver something more than half the population needs almost daily, on the cheap. Refer a friend and you get a $5 credit. As they say, “1000 friends gets you 83 years of free razors…and if you live long than that, bravo, we’ll be happy to keep sending.” Brilliant.

Send Personal Thank You Notes and Greetings
A common practice a century ago, handwritten notes are long out of fashion. But you have your customers’ addresses, so why not drop a personal note just after a sale? The gesture shows your company cares and that you’re personally invested in the sale. (And hey, it’s not too late for a Happy New Year note, so send away!)

Issue an Invitation
To land big, repeat customers, nothing beats a personal touch. Invite your big-name clients to lunch or throw an office party to show top decision makers around and introduce them to your staff. OR, try presenting your repeat customers with a secret portal on your website offering invitation-only discounts and special offers. Your repeat customers (big or small) will feel valued and special—you can’t go wrong.

Online Version of Fishbowl Freebies
Restaurants often put out a fishbowl and ask customers to drop in business cards, then give away a catered lunch once a month in return. You may not have a brick-and-mortar and a fishbowl, but you can capture the same spirit with customer satisfaction surveys, online polls, and even social media responses. Provide your customers with an incentive to interact with your brand online and reward your customers with a deep discount or even a free product or service giveaway. Also, hey, take your customers’ responses to heart. Whether B2B or B2C, when people take the time to provide valuable feedback, do not let the opportunity for improvement go to waste!

Focus on Customer Service
78% of consumers say they’ve bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase due to a poor customer service experience. NOTHING beats great customer service. Deliver more than you promised and do it fast. Respond quickly to queries and issues and ensure your customer service staff is always accessible, empowered to fix things, and easy to find.

What is Marketing’s Impact on Innovation for Growth? Download this whitepaper on Growth Cycle MarketingInterested in establishing, building and nurturing customer trust at every point in the buy cycle? In our free Growth Cycle Marketing guide, you’ll learn lots of great, specific techniques for nurturing repeat customer relationships.

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Remember, true profitability isn’t simply in the one-time sale—it’s all about gaining more repeat customers. Lay the groundwork for a solid relationship built on trust from first contact, then show your customers so much kindness and care that they’ll remain loyal customers for life.

The Human Factor: Creating Emotional Connections with your B2B Audience

Want to make an emotional connection with your B2B audience on your next marketing campaign? You’ll need a deep understanding of who your customers really are—and you might have to go against convention to reach them.

Consumers are bombarded by thousands of ads per day. Standing out is no easy task. An emotional connection to your brand is sincere, powerful and hard to shake. It inspires trust and loyalty and goes beyond that fleeting moment of recognition.

The Human Factor: Creating Emotional Connections with your B2B Audience

B2B or B2C, it’s all Human-to-Human (H2H)
The general perception is that, in B2B, business customers make decisions solely based on cost (i.e. getting more for your money). However, a surprising CEB study shows us that’s just not the case. It turns out businesses are even more invested in emotional currency than individual consumers…which only makes sense, seeing as consumers can return or cancel if they make a mistake, but a company-wide service, software, goods purchase or other investment can represent a huge investment in time and money that’s hard to reverse.

GE has a great example—they’re bent on making brilliant emotional connections to high-level concepts by humanizing new ideas in energy production and cutting-edge technology. (In some cases, quite literally). While these ideas may seem like appeals directly to the consumer, individuals don’t buy power directly from GE, power companies do. The purpose of these emotional campaigns is to build human-to-human consumer trust, strengthen their brand and inspire confidence. GE never forgets that businesses are populated by real people—and at the end of the day, people are making decisions for business growth.

Here’s how you can make that real, emotional connection with your audience, even if you’re B2B…

Hit Them Right in the Feels
Cheerios goes right for the heart. In their eating breakfast with Nana commercial, a son wonders if eating Cheerios for breakfast is like eating breakfast with his (presumably departed) grandma, because, as his mother says, “Cheerios has pretty much been the same forever.”

The B2B Approach: Revisit your favorite customer satisfaction stories. How did you make your customer’s life easier that day? How did you make that customer feel? Retell these stories on your website or company blog.

Offer an Invitation to Sit at the Cool Kids Table
Consumers attach to brands because people like to feel like they’re part of something—like they’re members of an exclusive club. Many brands have created an emotional connection by finding new ways to make customers feel hip, cool and fashionable. One of the most iconic campaigns in history features celebrities and athletes sporting milk mustaches or growing up to meet success. “Got Milk?” is a simple slogan with a powerful message: If you want a body like this, you gotta drink your moo juice.

The B2B Approach: Loyalty programs and repeat customer incentives work wonders: your customers feel valued and appreciated and you get more repeat business. It’s win-win. Invite your customers into your exclusive club with an offer they can’t refuse.

Tap Into Social Conscience
Whole Foods goes right for social consciousness, emphasizing sustainability, organic eating and giving back, speaking directly to popular social causes. For example, if you bought your Christmas tree from Whole Foods, they made a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation. (“You buy a tree, we plant a tree.”) With social media dominated by alarming messages about dying bees, meat full of hormones and global warming, it’s the perfect time for messages about responsibility, sustainability and healthy eating. If the state of the world’s food supply concerns you, shopping at Whole Foods just feels like the right thing to do.

The B2B Approach: Do you have a page on your website dedicated to your company’s values and the causes you support? Even if your biggest contribution last year was sponsoring a kids’ softball team, there’s a story in that and we guarantee your customers are interested in how your business contributes to your community.

Emotional appeal isn’t just for B2C, it’s also a powerful tool for B2B marketers who understand their audience. Use it to build trust and loyalty as you connect with your customers at every stage of the buy cycle.