Month: January 2018

Content Marketing - not Selling

How to sell without “selling”

This week I had an interesting question from a business owner.
She runs a highly successful tailored recruitment service, and had now been given the opportunity to introduce herself to a friend’s private network – packed full of prospective clients.

“I want to really show off my strengths – but I don’t want to come across as blunt and ‘salesy’. How do I do it?”

This is a question I hear from time to time, both from marketers and entrepreneurs. And it’s a valid one. Because let’s face it, everyone’s pretty clued up when it comes to sales messages these days! Your prospects can smell a pitch a mile away. And if they’re not ready to listen – they immediately switch off.

But how do we get around this?

How do we sell without selling?

Breaking through the ad noise

We live in an age of advertising fatigue. We choose on-demand TV and fast-forward through adverts, we disable ad pop-ups and we chuck direct mail straight in the recycling bin.

This may seem like a huge challenge for marketing, but it’s actually a brilliant opportunity to go beyond the traditional one-way-street messaging. You have the chance to create influence and engagement and win long-term trust. All you have to do is give people what they are actually looking for and interested in.

The 5 principles of influence

In this blog post I will outline some ways to get started with influencer marketing and how it can improve your lead generation.

  1. Ditch the scattergun. Get to know who your client is, what their challenges are and what they need. Visualise one specific ideal client and keep them in mind when you create your message. You will need to demonstrate that you are aware of their issues, and that you understand the frustration they feel. They need to know that you care.
  2. Ask: How can I help? Be clear not only on the challenges your prospects face, but how you can help them overcome those challenges. You must be able to show a clear connection between their ‘pain’ and your ‘remedy’. Sometimes the prospect isn’t even aware of their own problem, but they can begin to understand their limitations when they see how you are able to help.
  3. Show, don’t tell. Everyone can say how great they are and how amazing their product or service is. But most of the time, nobody else cares! We need to show our audience how our amazingness can be applied and what difference it makes. Let customer quotes, statistics and tangible benefits shine through in your message.
  4. Go where you’re wanted. While adverts and sponsorships do still play a part in the promotions mix, there are plenty of ways to introduce your brand in places where people already come to search for services or products like yours. Become a trusted advisor to those searching for help by answering questions and offering advice.
  5. Create high-value content. Rather than spending money on glossy videos telling the world how great your brand is, start creating content that actually helps your prospect achieve something. Teach them best practice, offer free high-level guidance, and share your knowledge. While this may sound like you’re giving away your skills for free, you are actually helping yourself by pre-qualifying your prospects. Those who turn to you after reading your content will already have ‘bought in’ to you and have an established interest in your offering.

Applying the principles

In a conversation with the business owner, we loosely walked through these principles. We both agreed on the first three, and the fourth one was already sorted out in this instance as she had a specific network to address.

This left the final principle: The content. What content should she create to influence this audience?

With limited timescales, I suggested that a targeted blog-style article would fit well. It would be an opportunity to address the wider issues and challenges of recruitment and to showcase how well she understands the prospects’ pain points. She could then guide the reader through the various checkpoints they should consider when choosing a recruitment partner – all built on her decade-long business legacy and insight.

Content creates influence

Content marketing is a powerful tool for creating influence. By using helpful, relevant and non-invasive content strategies we can build up engagement with our audience without being dismissed as sales noise. There are so many interesting ways you can promote your business through content, there’s no need to worry about running out of ideas.

So the next time you’re reaching for your pen to draft that promotional letter, email or sales page – have a think about these five principles and how you can make them work for your business!

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Be a marketing monkey

Embrace your inner Marketing Monkey

When I was working as part of an in-house business team, I often heard sales teams referring to the marketing team as “marketing monkeys”. Now – I don’t know about you, but there were certainly some members of my team who weren’t entirely pleased with this epithet. They felt it was derogatory. Disrespectful. Mean. (I’m pretty sure it was even escalated to become an HR issue on one occasion.)

But is this really an insult, or in fact something much more insightful?

Personally, I didn’t mind at all. Instead, I would happily refer to myself as a marketing monkey. Not in an ironic, self-deprecating way either, but wearing it as proudly as a name badge. Why? Well, perhaps because the last time I looked monkeys were actually one of the smartest animal species on the planet. They use tools, they are super flexible, they learn from others and teach their young. Monkeys are amazing animals!

The business world is a jungle

Let’s face it; we are all different types of animals, and we all try to find our way through the business jungle. Every function in the business is in fact represented by an animal, and you work alongside them every day.

Take a look at all the functions here – and what a unique relationship Marketing has to each of them!

Marketing Monkey

Marketing: the nimble MONKEY

  • Swings from tree to tree, engaging with all animals with curiosity
  • Has a wide view of the horizon from the treetop, but also sees the ground at the bottom
  • Has the ability to shout far and wide to communicate messages of warning, excitement and discovery

 

Sales tiger

Sales: the hungry TIGER

  • When the Tiger is hungry, there is only one thing on its mind: nothing gets between it and its prey
  • Has a limited on-the-ground perspective and can learn much from the treetop view of Monkeys
  • To help the Tiger hunt, the Monkey must understand its challenges

 

The CEO elephant

CEO: the sturdy ELEPHANT

  • Stomps up new paths through the jungle
  • Has the ability to make powerful changes – but moves slower than many other animals
  • Is protective of its tribe and needs to see value for everyone

 

The HR owl

HR: the protective OWL

  • Takes the young under their wing
  • Keeps the bird’s eye view but zooms in on the detail where needed
  • The monkey helps the owl by making its voice heard, sharing its wisdom and supporting its efforts

 

The IT spider

IT: the productive SPIDER

  • Builds a framework for connectivity
  • Has an intricate model in mind and will continue to grow and repair its web until it is as effective as possible
  • The monkey helps the spider by suggesting new connection points or systems that may strengthen and expand the entire network

 

The Finance Squirrel

Finance: the frugal SQUIRREL

  • Always fully focussed on having enough resources to keep everyone fed
  • Plays a long game and tries to predict what needs to be done today to get results tomorrow
  • As long as the monkey can prove that what it does is of benefit to the future of the business, the squirrel will help and support it

 

The Operations Beaver

Operations: the constructive BEAVER

  • Tirelessly works to create the dam, with contributions from its tribe
  • The monkey can share insight on how other dams are built and what makes them different
  • The monkey helps the beaver by bringing it useful building material

 

When we as marketers see ourselves as monkeys, it’s easy to visualise all the support we bring to the other business functions. We adapt, we move swiftly to help where we are most needed, and we are constantly curious to find out new, better ways to do things.

So next time someone calls you a marketing monkey; be proud.
You ARE a monkey. And that’s what makes you awesome.


Want to know more?
Discover how to become a confident, influential marketer in any business. Order or download the book Hunting with Tigers – a Marketer’s Career Survival Guide today!

 Hunting with Tigers cover
Order book: Hunting with Tigers

 

Become a better marketer

How to be a better marketer in 2018

New Year. New beginnings. Isn’t it quite nice to have a clean break in the middle of winter? We get – hopefully – a few days to switch off and relax, and then plough back into action with renewed strength. (Also, for stationery nerds like me, it’s a wonderful feeling to crack open a brand new year journal and introduce it to a set of fresh pens!)

But in many ways, this new beginning is an opportunity to take stock of where we are and how we want to develop this coming year. Who do you want to become in 2018?

Keep moving your career forward

Learning and developing is not just for students. Especially in a field like marketing, we need to keep moving forward. The world of insight, technology, systems and methods is developing so fast that we need to make efforts to keep moving with it.

This doesn’t mean that we must be aware of every single new innovation, but we should be conscious of the fact that there is a best-before date on some of our skills and knowledge. We need to keep an ear to the ground. What’s happening in social media? What’s the latest trend in video? Who are the big industry influencers this year?

Knowledge never dies

It can feel frustrating to know that what you learnt in the past may no longer apply, but the key is to not be threatened by the development but rather use your experience in building a ‘nuanced’ view of reality.

Here’s an example: Direct mail. Those of us old enough to have experienced marketing communications in the pre-email era will remember how direct mail was widely used, but then effectively abandoned by many organisations for more than a decade. It became an archaic method. However, in recent years, direct mail has seen a revival in the wake of email fatigue. Once again, the skills associated with print and postal communications have become a valuable part of the mix.

Steps to take

You may be lucky enough to have an employer who values training and is willing to fund your learning journey. This is an amazing opportunity and one you should definitely make the most of. But even if not, or if you perhaps work for yourself, you can still make training and development a priority.

Get a mentor.

Whenever I speak to marketers, I am often surprised by how many who have never had a mentor. I think it says a lot about marketing as a function – the typical marketing professional has a ‘Let’s do this’ attitude that doesn’t necessarily involve asking for support. We want to be seen as the powerhouse of the business, and one that does not rely on anyone else. For whatever reason, receiving guidance or mentoring can be seen as a weakness – when in fact it’s the complete opposite.

For many years, I myself made the mistake of choosing not to be mentored. Since then, I have had the great benefit of working with several mentors who have provided me with immeasurable knowledge, guidance and confidence. (Most recently, as a business owner, I have had the vital support of George Swift and Tracey Miller of Bigger Brighter Bolder.)

Find a community.

Whether you are a one-man-band or a member of a large team, it’s easy to sometimes feel lonely or exposed. If you are struggling with something, you may not feel comfortable venting your frustrations in the office – or there may simply not be anyone able to help you.

Every marketer should have a support community where they can share their tactical challenges and strategic successes. There are friendly, supportive and non-judgmental groups out there, offering a listening ear and a helping hand. (If you don’t have one, join ours on Facebook.)

READ. And then read some more.

When I launched my book Hunting with Tigers in 2017, I became acutely aware of how many marketing voices there are out there in the published – and unpublished – world. There are thousands upon thousands of titles on Amazon alone, and many of them claim to be ‘game changers’ and ‘revolutionary’. Of course, most of them won’t actually change your life, but you won’t know for sure until you read them.

It can feel overwhelming to try to keep up with all the latest trendy books. Not to mention expensive. Luckily, many of the best brains in the industry are active bloggers and will regularly share their knowledge and ideas on websites and in newsletters for free. Why not set up a special inbox folder, fast-track all the best newsletters you can find into it, and set aside a time each week where you read and absorb them?

Experiment.

The best knowledge in the world comes from first-hand experience. When you think up something, create it, and measure the results, you will learn more than you will ever do reading about someone else’s results.

If possible, earmark a segment of your budget and time to experimenting with new technology, new methods or deliverables. Give yourself permission to fail, as long as you learn something from the experience and can use that knowledge for future activities.

 

Do you want tips like these to your inbox? Over the next few weeks I will continue to share suggested systems and processes that will make your life easier. Sign up to the Hunting with Tigers bulletin and stay updated with hands-on marketing advice.

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