This is a guest post by Christopher on Marketing Consistency. You can read the guidelines for guest posting at our guest posting guidelines page.
In case you haven’t noticed, the entire discipline of marketing is undergoing a vast transformation. If this comes as a surprise to you because your job entails being in front of prospects most of the time, then you need to stop right now and find out where your company stands on this matter. Because here’s the bottom line – marketing is now responsible for courting customers just as much as sales. And like any good competitive sales rep, you need to know what they’re saying.
Welcome to Inbound Marketing
This new marketing world is called content marketing and/or inbound marketing. In a nutshell, it’s all the stuff on your website meant to attract new people to your site and – here’s the main point – convert them to real purchasing customers. This is way more than someone posting an amusing blog article every so often. Therefore, it is critical that the message coming from both sales and marketing is consistent, in fact – it should go further and be an integrated message. You can bet your competitors are studying this very seriously and are looking at ways they can implement their own coordinated marketing strategy.
What Happened to Outbound Marketing?
Traditional outbound marketing – email, direct mail, tradeshows, radio and television ads, even published materials – has been losing the ROI war for a while now in a number of industries, but not in all of them. These marketing channels are still important for certain types of business. Depending on what your company does, there could be 3 separate methods – inbound marketing, outbound marketing and sales teams – all equally important for converting interested prospects to paying customers.
Here are five key steps for making sure your company’s message is the same no matter who gives it:
Secure Support from the Top
This is a paradigm shift in how companies do business. Without complete buy-in from top management, your company will not be able to have a uniform story across the board. Departments that don’t believe in inbound marketing will continue to do their own thing, often with confusing results for your prospects.
Everyone Knows the Message
Okay, so the CEO loves the idea of inbound marketing, and the marketing teams are cranking out whitepapers and videos and blogs like crazy. This will not be very effective if no one knows what’s in those blogs and whitepapers except the people who wrote them. Everyone needs to know where on the corporate website they will find information useful to their particular job function, and they’re not going to know where to find it unless they look on a regular basis. Just about every rep on the planet can remember having their presentation get hijacked by an attendee with a legitimate (or not) gripe. It’s very powerful to be able to silence the heckler by pointing them to a highly detailed whitepaper that answers all of their questions. Or to be able to bring up an informative customer video testimonial that addresses your prospects’ concerns, all because you knew where to find it on your company’s site.
Everyone is a Contributor
If you’re still dismissing the notion of “marketing” as just so much fluff, then you are suffering from old school thinking. Marketing can’t be fluff now. Trust that your team is busy improving content because that is how Google searches are going to direct prospects to your company – by having amazing, remarkable content on your website. Everyone in the company should be encouraged to suggest ideas for content. They don’t have to write the material if that’s not their strong suit. If you’re in front of customers and prospects on a regular basis you have no doubt responded to hundreds, if not thousands of their questions. Those answers could be the foundation for a series of informative content pieces on your company.
Don’t Forget Social Media
Hardly a day goes by that you don’t hear about someone in some company tweeting or posting something embarrassing on a social media channel. Companies need a defined policy on who posts what, where and how. Don’t trust that the email HR sent out to “everyone” actually got read by everyone. This is why support from the top is so important, to drive departments to have group meetings where everyone can understand what the policy is and what can and cannot be said. The last thing you want is an engineer leaking valuable data about your unreleased product before critical legal issues have been resolved.
Take Care of Technical Challenges
The Internet has truly changed the way we live our lives but not everyone in your company has the same level of technical acumen. Sometimes people are reluctant to embrace new forums, tools, gadgets etc. This doesn’t make them bad employees. No one will admit their shortcomings, so savvy companies will make sure they provide plenty of information on how to properly use new technologies, and not just with a written document. Short video tutorials are amazingly effective tools for teaching that people can view over and over, at times of their choosing.
This is the world of Marketing 2.0 – fast, informative and ever-changing. Get onboard and tighten up your marketing messages, and watch what happens!
About the Author:
Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, one of the nation’s largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small. Amsterdam specializes in promotional pens, personalized pens and other personalized items such as calendars, laptop bags and T-shirts.