Company Trustworthiness is the Key to Marketing Success

And you achieve this though having experts and respected sources writing case studies, white papers, online articles and blogs about you, your products and your services.

What all smart marketers want to know is how to be the most effective. What channel is going to deliver the best return upon investment? Which digital marketing tactic will reap the highest rewards the fastest?

Well if it was only that simple. Marketing, like many things in the world,is a case of trial and error with a healthy dollop of persistence and patience included. But marketing needn’t be like fishing where you have no idea where the fish swim, how deep down they are, or indeed whether there are any fish in the pond at all.

In today’s world the customer is overloaded with noise and is marketed to incessantly on every channel and medium that exists, virtually 24/7. They are learning to tune out, which is why bludgeoning them with phone calls, print advertising and any other form of “push marketing” is becoming less and less effective.

The nice people at Edelman Digital have put together some telling information about trust. First that: People buy from people and organisations they trust. But significantly Edleman go onto say that less than 1/3rd of people actually trust a marketing message. Their study also found that trusting companies is more important than delivering great products and services.

What is this saying? It’s actually very profound, and tells us that the default position of a buyer is to distrust you, and that it doesn’t matter how good your product or service is if your company image isn’t right. Therefore the priority for any marketing message must be to elevate the image and stature of a company so that it can be trusted.

Edleman Digital go on to show how the credibility of television, radio and newsprint has declined significantly in the past few years with not only fewer people watching, listening or reading these forms of media, but those same people no longer really believe what is written or said anymore. Significantly, on the other hand, the views of industry experts, academics and industry analysts are now the voices to be trusted and respected.

Top factors for corporate reputation are shown to be: trustworthiness; transparent and honest practices; high quality products and services; frequent communication; good treatment of employees and good corporate citizenship. Obviously, sharks may no longer apply.

So, to tie it up together neatly, a prospect clearly needs to trust the seller before he will listen to the sales message and before he will buy. To do that a company must create the image of trustworthiness. The best way to do that is through the representation of someone is an expert, and who is credible.

But it isn’t simply about getting a known and respected individual to endorse your product or service publicly, it’s about getting the known and respected individual to talk about the product or service in a non-pushy thoughtful and knowledgeable way in a place and a fashion which isn’t perceived as being “oi mate, buy one of these!” because in this day and age we know we are being marketed to, and we don’t like it.

Think a TV yoghurt or fruit drink commercial by one of the big food giants, or the same product endorsed on Mumsnet following an informed survey of children’s foods…

How many times does someone need to hear the message before it sinks in? Edelman Digital answer that question too, and in most cases it is deemed to be 3 to 5 times before the prospect will start to trust a seller.

For me this is the data that explains and justifies why case studies, white papers, online articles, videos and blogs are all at the top of the list for being the best tools in the marketer’s arsenal for supporting Inbound Marketing strategies and for building a Companies trustworthiness rating and credibility factors.

This is the big change we are seeing in marketing. It’s now about pull and not so much push. Get the experts to write the best articles. Let the community circulate them and make it easy for your prospects do their own reading and research. After all, they are probably intelligent enough to do so, right? Then if you’ve done your marketing right, they will take the viewpoint that “if their content is this good, how much more valuable would their products or services be?

Written by:   Alistair Menzies Anderson
Email:          amamenza (at) gmail (dot) com

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Inbound Marketing is Smarter ~ simple!

The traditional outbound marketing techniques of telemarketing, cold-calling, direct mail, holding trade shows and print advertising are becoming less effective. Buyers are simply tuning these messages out and ignoring them. Marketers are simply finding that ‘interuption marketing‘ just doesn’t work anymore. Buyers now have the capability to evaluate the products and services they need on their own.

When a visitor lands on your website, did you know you have only 4-seconds to convince them that you have something worth looking at? That means if you’ve gone through all the effort of persuading them to ‘take a look at you‘ then all that effort is completely wasted if what you show them is irrelevant to them, or is badly presented and off target. How many sites have you looked at, then sighed under your breath, shaken your head, and then moved swiftly on mumbling something about ‘they just don’t gettit do they ….‘?

4-seconds is a short time in which to lose a sale isn’t it? And expensive! Especially when you consider that research now shows that the average cost of a sales lead generated through outbound marketing is around $370 each. That’s like losing about $90 a second on a badly thought through website, landing page or content. That’s why in todays age the sales process must be properly thought through from A to Z and at a minimum the basics should be in place before you start expending energy on reaching out to gather leads.

This data from Hubspot is showing that the cost per lead is more than 60% lower for Inbound Marketing when compared to Outbound Marketing. 3 out of 4 inbound marketing channels cost less than any outbound channel. So what are the most expensive and cheapest ways to gather sales leads? Trade shows are horrendously expensive and in the past few years there has been a 46% decline in tech trade show spending.

It’s not just raw cost though is it? It’s effectiveness. What are the most effective ways to get your message across to your prospect? That is what marketers want to know and this will undoubtedly vary slightly depending whether you are marketing to business customers (B2B) or consumers (B2C) but the media that marketers seem to favour this year stays pretty much the same.

In a recent study the most popular B2B content formats considered the most effective in engaging prospects and delivering the desired message today are Case Studies, live presentations, white papers, online articles and videos.

B2B Technology Marketing Group

It is interesting to note that Blogging was halfway down the list. There is considerable data now that shows just how effective Blogging can be for raising traffic and increasing the number of sales leads gathered. The pertinent points that Hubspot makes about Blogging is that if done frequently, the companies that blog have on average 434% more indexed pages; which results in the same companies having on average 97% more inbound links. Finally they show that companies with more indexed web pages get way more leads. Translate that back into non-technical speak, this data confirms what we suspected in that volume and the frequency of Blogging and content is a key contributor to getting to the top of the SEO rankings which in turn translates into sales leads.

There are lots of different ways for getting your message across to your prospective customers. Effectiveness is key, as is using the right medium and the right channel, but at the same time don’t ignore the basics. Know who your ideal prospect is. Know who they are, what they look like, what their typical profile might be like, and then… Know where they hang out! Where do they gather? Are they on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter? Which blogs do they read? Which websites might they read? So in turn, go where they go, and speak where they gather. Good luck.

Written by:   Alistair Menzies Anderson
Email:          amamenza (at) gmail (dot) com

Smart Content and Customer Acquisition Strategies

More than a decade has passed since we first started repeating the mantra “content is king”. The funny thing is, back then we didn’t really know why, except that it was fairly obvious that blank or boring web-pages attracted no-one. Today we know that exceptional content is the absolute key to attracting prospects digitally and acquiring customers. Inbound Marketing is the term, and it’s the science of generating leads online.

By comparison, traditional marketing can also be called ‘outbound marketing’ where you rely heavily on salespeople, cold-calling, emailing, sending out collateral, advertising, branding etc. Activity and results can be sporadic and haphazard as effort is expended dashing up blind alleys and back-tracking.

The idea from Inbound Marketing is to attract eyeballs from search engines, the quality of your content and from social media, and then when you have them on your site, you ‘capture’ them or start to lead them deeper into your lair with subtle ‘nudge marketing’ tactics, but that discussion is for another day!

It isn’t just clever Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or content alone anymore that wins the traffic. Blogs, articles, videos, white papers, webinars all have their role to play. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums and social news websites are the new destinations and meeting places for today’s buyers and influencers.

I have always liked the old saying “all cows have four legs, but not everything with four legs is a cow…”. I know, pretty silly, but very pertinent when you consider that websites without interesting and relevant content don’t even get a look in at walking these days. Successful lead generating websites have great content, but not every website with some content is necessarily great, and greatness is defined in validity and usefulness to the visitor.

Google still gets fooled into thinking that sites with all the right keywords and some weak content is worthy of sticking up on the first page of a search, but increasingly this is not the case anymore. SEO and social media is now an integral part of the equation for ranking and sites with strong social metrics seem increasingly to be higher up the listings. The most significant factors being Facebook shares, comments, likes, followed by tweets.

This doesn’t, however, detract us from the basic premise that one of the leading uses of the Internet is still as a research tool used before making a purchasing decision. Don’t forget it.

So therefore, above everything else, you need to think who the customer is you are targeting, what are their pains and needs, what do they want to know, what are they looking to buy, how do they want to buy it, and what messages do you want to send to them. You need to feed prospects and existing customers alike tidbits along the way to keep them warm and interested, otherwise they will slope off somewhere else.

How therefore, do you know what they want? Guess? Throw out lots of bait and hope they bite at something then throw more in the same direction? For most organisations, those two methods seem to be business as normal. When put that way, the answer to best practice seems fairly obvious – ask the Customer – it might even surprise you!

Customers usually don’t like telling you they are unhappy and would rather just leave quietly via the back door. Those who are angry are usually no longer in a fit state to be helpful or profitable customers anymore. But believe it or not, a huge proportion of your customers would be very happy to tell you what they wanted if only you asked!

So, if you are finding yourself guessing at what your customer wants, then ask them. They’ll tell you. In the past it was called Market Research, and the internet now brings you into close contact with prospects and customers of all shapes, colour and size. This is known as market sensing and subsequently shaping your products and services to perfectly match your customers’ needs, which in turn – and never forget this – promises to take away their pains.

What really matters now is how satisfied customers react and how their satisfaction leads to loyalty (repeat business) and how this increases the likelihood of referrals (recommendations to others) and with the emergence of social networking and Facebook and Twitter those are the environments where the message gets out.

Remember, online lead generation in the form of Inbound Marketing is also about building the right image for your brand. To create a website of style, quality and content takes time. To attract a suitable number of visitors takes time. Therefore to create the leads you want takes time but unless you really mess things up, once established, they will keep coming through the revolving door, day and night.

Inbound Marketing is clearly winning over Outbound Marketing. Those marketers and salespeople with offerings who remain fixated in the old school will soon find themselves left behind. Today too many people are too busy to listen to a pitch. Cold calls are a low probability and only worth your time if your time isn’t worth very much.

Like many things, combining the old and the new works best. Offline activity must be coordinated with online information. When you reach out to prospects by calling them, don’t just assume they’re not interested if they don’t take your call. Remember they might be busy, and will look at your website later in their own time, and if it isn’t immediately relevant and doesn’t clearly address their business need then they will never bother returning your call again.

Inbound Marketing gives what salespeople need. Good solid leads and referrals. Combine these with clearly articulated references and examples of how the product or the service solved someone else’s problem and doing business will all of a sudden become a whole lot easier.

Take Inbound Marketing seriously and do it now if you want to be a player next year. Remember, satisfied customers are the key to growing a business because they are so much cheaper and more effective at growing bottom line revenue than focusing all your efforts on costly, inefficient new customer acquisition using Outbound Marketing techniques. They are also the one who will help you tell everyone else!

Written by:   Alistair Menzies Anderson
Email:          amamenza (at) gmail (dot) com