2019 was a challenging year for a lot of businesses.
Regardless of your sector or niche, the last annum was likely filled with more than its fair share of struggles.
Across the country there were sharp downward turns in productivity, promising new business ventures suspended by economic uncertainty, losses of customer satisfaction and retention, boarded up shop doors and businesses going bust – you get the idea, it’s all the cheery sort of stuff you’d expect from a blog with a title like this one.
We’re entering into an era where, for many business owners, it can feel next to impossible to find that healthy operational sweet spot.
A growing number of markets seem to now be saturated to the point you can barely move for look-alike logos and sound-alike slogans from indistinguishable clone competitors.
Then, after years of grinding yourself and your team into the ground just to make the slightest incision through the deafening noise of this overcrowded market, in rolls a reckless wave of disruption, levelling everything in its path, and rendering all those hours of sleep you wasted on your “Strategic Group Longevity Plan” worthless.
In these volatile, unpredictable times we are living in, there are really only two things you can do to make your chances of survival more likely:-
- Safeguard yourself from disruption
- Discover the secret weapon that will swear in your reign of sales and marketing glory and defeat market saturation, for good.
The reason for the hint of sarcasm in that second point is that what will ultimately help you achieve this cut-through is not something tangible, but rather an adjustment of approach on a few levels.
Stop: Hammering the hard sell
44% of direct mail is never opened, 86% of viewers skip TV commercials, and 200 million people a year have to tell unwanted cold-callers to just…well, you know what the end of that statistic is, we’ve all said it.
The point here is that prospective customers have not only become resistant to traditional, interruptive advertising, but thanks to the advent of technology, they now have the power to find the things they want all by themselves. So unfortunately, if your sales tactic is to halt someone in their tracks to give them your tired, over-rehearsed and unconvincing sales pitch, you are willingly barring yourself from entering into the “things customers want” club.
Start: Earning the love, respect and trust of your customers
With outbound marketing practices soon to join mullets and leg warmers as another mistake made in the 80s we should just move on from, it is time for businesses to invert the dynamic of their marketing strategy, and instead look to draw customers in.
If you want the attention of buyers, you need to know them inside out – their wants, needs, desires, and motivations. Then, you need to demonstrate this understanding through the way you present and market your brand, and whatever it is you’re trying to sell.
The average person conducts multiple Google searches every single day. They have questions they want answered and challenges they need to face. Create marketing material that proves you understand these challenges – present your service or product as the definitive answer to their question.
You earn respect and trust by being authentic and providing genuine assistance and value to your customers, not by pushing them into a sell or deceiving them into a contract. Over time, if you nurture that relationship, your customers will love you for your empathy and ability to be genuine.
Stop: Writing about yourself. ALL. THE. TIME.
You might have seen us say in the past that great content is critical to survival in today’s business landscape (and we’re genuinely pleased if you’ve seen some of our content before).
But too often we see people producing content for content’s sake, which serves no purpose other than to squander the valuable resources within your marketing department, or worse, frustrate the creative talent required to produce said content.
There are two pitfalls that people commonly fall into and end up stuck spinning their wheels – the first is writing what they think people want to hear, or what they think they should be saying.
Any brand content that isn’t genuinely reflective of your true thoughts, opinions or experiences is worthless. Don’t be a clone amid the competitive market noise. Effective branding that people love is done by companies that know themselves and why they’re different, then capitalise on that at every opportunity.
The second main content marketing mistake people make is just writing about themselves…constantly.
Look at things from an outside perspective; if you were scrolling through Google’s search results or social media, which is more likely to gain your interest – content that pats itself on the back for its own successes, or that empowers you to have successes of your own?
Start: Offering genuine insight from your own experience
Let’s go back to that typical consumer, making those Google searches everyday. They are at a point where they are researching the best way to address their particular problem or challenge.
The age of information has made the modern audience far too savvy for content that exists only to veil a hard sell (and Google will suss you out as well), so write something that is useful, with no strings attached. The goal here is to earn their trust and respect.
Be sure that your insight is really your insight, not something that is being said already. And most importantly, say it in your voice. This might mean challenging a few norms and ruffling a few feathers, but we prefer to think of this as sparking healthy debate amongst one’s peers.
The way they will come across your brand, product or service as the answer is if you provide something of genuine value, initially, without expecting anything in return.
To this day, one of the most effective methods of marketing is word-of-mouth. When you keep on hearing about that new film that’s come out, or that new band with a promising first album. The way you do that is with messages that stand out. Content that pricks people’s ears up, or that offers them something that made their lives easier.
Prove yourself in these areas first, and you won’t even have to think about how long you should wait before you swoop in for the sell – it will come to you all on its own.
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