Push marketing alone is dead. You need to include inbound.

By Geff Harper on Jan 29, 2019
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The bleeding obvious

Here’s the bleeding obvious: consumer behaviour has forever changed since the internet.

But here’s the cause of a lot of bleeding: businesses are still selling like it’s 1990.

Consumers with information at their fingertips can access information about products, services and the people behind a company within seconds - including how long they’ve been with the company or what they did on Saturday night if privacy settings permit!

Time for change

As businesses we know this, yes a lot of our sales tactics are almost unchanged from the days of the 70’s and 80’s, back when you could just pick up the phone and just call through the pages of a phone book. Now, not only is cold calling one of the more difficult ways of making good connections, it’s pretty hard just to find a phone book! It’s not that all of those techniques have vanished, but where you once would’ve placed a number of print ads and waited weeks or months to try to see the results, you can now start advertising something within minutes, and start analysing the response almost immediately.

It’s a part of the massive shift away from push sales. Simply put, the modern-day consumer doesn’t want to be pushed. They’re doing all of the purchasing their way, on their terms. Even if they’re brick-and-mortar shoppers, they can just whip out a phone to do price comparisons or to verify a claim or feature. And in a world where one can pop online at 1am while wearing slippers and sipping Milo, and literally buy a car, we need to recognise that the rules have forever changed and so must our sales tactics. We can’t expect to just push messages out there and have consumers simply accept what we say and begin opening their wallets.

Resist the hard sell

People have resisted the “hard sell” for years; part of why people can (and do) buy things like cars and even homes online is because it allows them to skip the lengthy sales speech and the pressure, and purchase on their own terms. And with the power of ratings, they can quickly see what other consumers have said. In the long run, this is great for companies with consistently great quality, but in the short run, it means that you can’t hit them with a heavy pitch and bowl them over. They have the power, and they want to use it.

Then what?

So what do we do with these damnable information-empowered consumers? How do we take a well-informed public, and turn them into happy, paying customers?

The answer is actually a very old one, which has now come back in a new way: don’t sell and preach. Educate and teach.

This means a fundamental change in a lot of business methodologies. Many of us were taught that you have to push the customer to make the sale - perhaps best embodied by that quote from the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross”: “ABC - Always Be Closing”. That was the old way, the idea that your primary job was to get out there and get the signature, or get the cash or credit card in your hands.

The good news is, this actually, in turn, empowers you.  When consumers feel they’re being “sold”, they put up their barriers, they retreat to the Internet, they click away, they Google an alternative. Basically, they stop listening, because they lose trust. They feel that your motive is to get their money, not to give them a great product or service.

Educate and teach

In contrast, when you educate in a non-biased fashion, you shift their expectations, and you change the power dynamic. You’re no longer a salesperson, pushing a product. You’re now a subject matter expert, a passionate aficionado, helping others find the right match. Traditional selling means you have to break down peoples’ barriers and convince them to spend their money with you. Educating means you teach them how best to spend their money. People block out “sales”, and open up to “education”.

Sometimes this is called “Content Marketing”, the art of giving people lots of great unbiased information with no strings attached. In doing so, you the educator, become a trusted source. It might be best known and best described as “inbound marketing”, and it’s an essential strategy.

Unless someone generally avoids technology, it’s fairly unusual these days for someone to begin a purchase of a significant item by phoning around various providers given peoples’ ability to get instant info, they’re often more than halfway through the buying process before they’ll speak to someone or make contact. They’re checking blogs, watching videos, reading eBooks, looking at ratings to educate themselves.

If you’re not educating, you’re not talking to your prospects.

Inbound marketing

Many businesses are worried about an inbound marketing strategy. They say, that’s a long game, and it takes a lot of time to put that content together. It can be a challenging choice if it means putting in a lot of work, and not seeing major results until later.

And sure, there are potentially consumers right at the top of your sales funnel, who might buy quickly with just a push. But why go for just the fruit you can reach? You have the key advantages here. You know your business better than almost anyone.  You are already a repository of incredibly valuable knowledge - a subject matter expert. Why not invest some of your time to pass that knowledge on to the public?

Knowledge is power

Authentic knowledge is rare, valuable, and very monetisable in the longterm. In fact, if you’re creating great content, people will begin to want more and more. It’ll be a question of them seeking you out, rather than you trying to pull them in.

And if they’re reading your blog, or watching your videos, or just taking your advice in any format, they’re likely to seek out your business, your products or services. They’re likely to want what you do. You could add Influencer Marketing to your strategy without the cost of hiring an influencer - because that influencer is you.

This is especially powerful if you’re looking for a higher spend, like an investment property, a car, a top-level B2B service sale. You’re already an expert, which is the hard part. Now it’s just about getting the knowledge out there.

Inbound marketing is a critical part of modern business, and it involves a number of techniques and strong strategic pivots. If you need help, we can help. Give us a call - the consultation is free.

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Geff’s been in design for nearly 20 years, in digital for the last 10. Geff uses User-Centred Design principles to develop CX and UX that delivers for clients. He loves problem solving, leading design sprints and prototyping. Geff advocates strongly for user feedback and enjoys the challenge of creating solutions that positively impact user behaviour and interaction with technology.

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