16 Aug 2018

Help Before You Sell: Prioritize Your Customer Needs or Be Left Behind Forever

We’re at an interesting point in digital marketing history. The early adopters have all been trained, understand the benefits, and are moving forward with their digital marketing strategies. Some are successful, while others still need to figure out the details. But, for the most part, marketers everywhere are starting to “get it”.

In my opinion, based on our agency training thousands of people every year in our workshops, we see a big wave of late adopters that still do not understand the major shift to online marketing is affecting their industry and individual businesses. They almost seem to be in denial about the move to online shopping that’s taking place in every industry. And by every industry, I mean, everything from a resin manufacturer, to a drill press manufacturer, to a medical device manufacturer, to a heavy equipment rental company.

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Why Prioritizing Customer Needs Makes Good Business Sense

All your prospects and customers turn to the internet to investigate their next purchase. They’re not waiting to get your mailer, see your advertisement or talk to you at a trade show. They shop when they are ready, not when you are ready. Late adopters need to put themselves in your customers’ shoes and truly understand their journey as they make their vendor decisions. And that means being helpful – online!

It’s getting easier and easier to find what you want online. Whether you’re looking to buy a rotary encoder, a calibration instrument, hire an employee benefits agency, or get a healthcare degree, you want to make an informed decision.

  • What are the costs?
  • How do different brands compare?
  • What features are available, and which are really worth it?
  • Is this even the best way to approach my problem?

You have so many questions, yet many companies still do not get this basic content marketing concept. They’re not trying to help you make an informed decision – they’re just trying to get you to buy their stuff.

Focus on creating the best user experience

Brands are engaged in an ongoing struggle, fighting their way to the top of search engines for the promise of discovery and valuable traffic.

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Great for search engines, but what are the companies doing for them once they’re on the site? Too often, the focus is solely on getting visibility with users, but not having valuable, useful content for them to use.

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And so, visitors leave the unhelpful page and continue their search for the information they really want, which today, they often find in their next few searches.

At the same time, they may also see the non-helpful company they just bounced from place remarketing ads right back in front them, enticing them to return to the same useless content. They get the advertising side of things, they just don’t understand the customer journey well enough to have the right content.

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Earn your visitors trust

It’s not surprising that so many potential online customers are cynical, suspicious and weary. They have their own concerns, needs and priorities, none of which are your brand. Or your mission statement. Or your value proposition. Or your limited time offer.

So, why do so many brands focus exclusively on the heavy marketing pitch? Why exhaust word count on their sales copy instead of speaking more to the customer’s needs and pain points? For every person actively considering your product or service, there are 10 or 100 or 1000 other folks with a question or need that will lead them there in time. Questions and reservations are obstacles between your prospects and your brand.

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Remove those obstacles before the sale. Answer the questions, even the tough ones. Especially the tough ones. If you don’t, someone else will, and that competitor will be closer to earning customer trust. When that prospect’s questions and reservations have all been answered, you can have all the #1 rankings in Google you like — you’re now competing with the brand who’s been holding that prospect’s hand the whole way. The brand that truly understands them.

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Plus, educated prospects are confident buyers. And confident buyers become loyal customers. They made a smart choice and they’re sticking to it. They can become advocates. Give somebody content that’s truly useful and they may put your content in front of 10 or 100 or 1000 people — not because they like you, but because it’s worthwhile. It makes them feel good to be the one providing something useful. Will they do that with your sales brochure? Hell no.

Putting it all together

Help them, help you. If you’re just now trying to figure out how to bring your business online, start by addressing questions and concerns, and trust that they’ll come back to you when they’re ready to transact. Deliver that ray of sunshine in their hour of need.

Provide them the emotional fist pump when they find the genuinely beneficial information they’re looking for after sifting through pages of ad-laden fluff, outdated 2009 data and whatever Wikipedia has to say on the matter. Your business will be all the better for it.

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Take the time to create a strategy

How do you get started? It all starts with having a documented strategy. Again, what we have learned over the last several years, is that there is a direct correlation between having a written strategy and online marketing success. Especially for those of you that are just beginning to understand the need to shift your marketing focus to digital marketing. If you don’t take the time to create a strategy, the odds are you will not be successful one or two years from now.

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