Social Selling and Content Marketing: A White-Hot Combination
It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Robert Rosenthal & Natasha Sekkat – Enjoy!
“Social selling” and “content marketing” sound like trendy terms you’d hear at a cool conference. But we’ve never cared much about what’s fashionable in marketing and sales. It comes down to what works. And the combination we’re about to describe has the potential to change almost everything.
First, a couple of quick definitions: Social selling is about building your personal and business brand through social media. Content marketing is the use of educational and even entertaining content in marketing.
Traditional Sales and Marketing No Longer Cut It
You may have noticed buyers don’t behave the way they did a generation ago. One reason: the explosion in easily accessible information. By the time you walk into a dealer to buy a car, you’ve most likely done research online. Car buyers are no longer at the dealer’s mercy.
When your parents needed a new refrigerator, they probably headed to a local appliance store. But these days, you might jump on Facebook, ask for recommendations, and receive five suggestions from friends in as many minutes.
Power has indeed shifted from seller to buyer. They want less of a pitch and more value from you. They have an ocean of information at their fingertips, so you’d better know your stuff. And with the opportunity to quickly research prospects online, there’s no excuse to pump out generalized messages.
Traditional marketing may be summed up in three words: sell, sell, sell. But product pitches often perform far worse than presentations that contribute more value. Great marketing is less self-centered and more buyer-centric.
Not Your Father’s Sales and Marketing Approach
When 20th century sales reps called new prospects, buyers generally knew nothing about the reps. Today prospects look them up on LinkedIn in seconds. Buyers ask themselves, “Is this someone I want to do business with?” It’s a whole new level of transparency.
Traditional sales reps were known for aggressiveness – and a willingness to repeat a pitch. Constantly. But that won’t work (and may even backfire) in social selling. If you keep posting comments like, “This (product name) is the best thing ever,” you’ll be ignored – or worse.
It’s better to proactively share advice or respond to a prospect’s post with a mention of a white paper on how others have addressed a similar issue. Or even provide a link to your company’s position on a particular topic. Your response should feel like community service and be adapted to your personal brand.
Content quality and quantity is key. Excellent content is super-relevant and informative. Even fascinating. Reps doing social selling regularly work the top and bottom of the funnel – and points in between. Marketing content needs to help prospects at every funnel point. It should never be, “Here’s our latest propaganda,” posted in the same manner to every prospect by every sales rep.
Of course, you can’t keep offering the same stuff. That’s why the best content marketers figure out how to regularly produce lots of high-quality content that fulfills prospect needs and business objectives. Your content should be strategic.
And remember, the best marketers tend to be the best testers, so be prepared to experiment in your content marketing and social selling. Think trial and error.
Listening for Opportunities
Here’s a potential game-changer. On LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and countless other sites, prospects tap into their networks by posting comments on what they’re researching and buying. They often use predictable words and phrases: triggers that could indicate a potential purchase. Naturally, you want to optimize your site accordingly for search engines, But if you efficiently sift through the noise on other sites to identify fresh prospects, you may have more opportunities than you’re able to handle. You may want to use Google Alerts or another tool to have these posts appear in your in-box as soon as they’re available, or focus on a small number of message boards or other sites.
Whatever you do, don’t get overly aggressive. Be consultative. And don’t overload prospects with information. Content that gets consumed most often tends to be concise: short videos, infographics, or other quick but useful presentations.
This is your chance to position yourselves as thought leaders. Or as an excellent content curator. Social selling is also about building your personal brand. It’s important to add your own touch to what you publish. Sometimes that simply means playing matchmaker and connecting people who may be useful to each other.
By all means, bring your personal life into your posts. That’s right – mix industry, product, and personal information. Show your kid’s artwork if you’re in the mood. Give prospects a chance to really know you and build a connection.
Commitment Is Key
The hip and highly profitable stuff we’ve described – social selling and content marketing – require commitment from the top. You can’t drop it into a dial-for-dollars or batch-and-blast culture and expect it to take hold. New technology is often needed, and if the team won’t use it, you may be unable to move forward. So get commitment for all this – along with the budget and time to make it work – from the top of your organization.
Now get out there and rock the world.
Robert Rosenthal is President of Contenteurs, a content marketing agency that has developed dozens of record-breaking marketing campaigns. Robert is author of Optimarketing: Marketing Optimization to Electrify Your Business – recently the #2 marketing book in Amazon’s Kindle Store. Robert holds a B.S. degree in marketing from California State University, Northridge.
Natasha Sekkat is Global Director, Inside Sales Centers of Excellence at EMC, with 15 years’ experience in technology sales and sales management. She’s a graduate of UPenn and Wharton, with an MBA from Boston College. Natasha lives in Sudbury, MA with her two young children.