Friday, May 1, 2009

Buyers Finding Sellers

In my recent white paper 'The 7 Secrets for Generating Quality Leads in a Recession' I talk about establishing an inbound marketing orientation -- the process by which prospects find your products and services rather you trying to find them. It doesn't have to necessarily supplant your current outbound marketing strategies (at least not yet :^), but it should at least run in parallel.

In a recent survey MarketingSherpa found out that 8 out of 10 deals were struck with prospects initially seeking out and finding the vendors they considered and the vendor they ultimately chose. The voluminous amount of information and data now available online has led to this sea change in the buying process (and the marketing process). The web is the first (and sometimes only) place prospects/buyers go to educate themselves to make informed buying decisions.

And it doesn't mean they necessarily go to a vendor web site, at least not in the beginning stages. The ubiquity of research sites, user reviews, blogs, online communities, social networks, et al allow these buyers to first stay abreast of new ideas, technologies and innovations, see similar challenges to problems they also have and then read up on how like ppl/companies solved their problems. All this before their first knock on a vendor's door (or website) and a demo of how their solution satisfies the buyer's needs.

The issue for forward-thinking marketers then is, how do we get ourselves included in those initial awareness/interest phases of the buying process? To help inform the prospect's understanding of the best solutions that may be available to him? And to make the connection between smart, helpful ideas and products/services that are built upon those ideas?

And the answer of course is to establish your company or brand as a business problem expert and as a credible and trusted source of useful knowledge, expertise and information. Marketers have always known that content is king, but these days, unbiased, educational, business-expertise, 'what-makes-you-an-expert?' content is where it's at. If you haven't yet, identifying and regularly communicating your core value in the form of your company thought leaders publishing those thoughts should be of paramount importance as you set up an outbound marketing strategy. The online channels to publish this intellectual property are defined -- blogs, share sites, social nets, company websites, podcasts, etc. Now your focus needs to be on consistently generating the ideas, education and answers that address and solve critical business issues and establish you as a trusted partner.

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