At the beginning of any client/customer relationship a potential buyer has no idea that you even exist. This state of unawareness marks the first of five steps in The Buying Continuum, and is arguably the most difficult to overcome. Why? Because you must rise above the noise of every other business (competitor or not) that is currently vying for your customer’s attention.
The question that you, and every other marketer, constantly have on your mind is “how do we get noticed by our target audience?”. The answer is twofold: publish content of value; and broadcast your value proposition. This method of publish-broadcast can be achieved with a mixture of activities, and is explored below using Sebastian the business coach, as a case study.
Sebastian works alongside business owners to develop and refine their five-year business plan. He regularly attends networking events because they offer the opportunity to meet company owners in an environment that encourages self-promotion. These face-to-face meetings allow Sebastian to listen to entrepreneurs and identify those that are potential clients. He is then able to give some free advice (content of value) and explain how he can help grow their business (value proposition).
Sebastian’s primary social network is LinkedIn. After every networking event, he connects with those who he considers a potential client. He is a member of several LinkedIn groups for SMEs and start-ups, and he regularly participates in, or initiates, online discussions. Sebastian also uses Twitter to engage with his current and potential clients, contributing to trending business topics and debates, and uses hashtags to add discovery. On both social platforms, he shares links to his blog posts (content of value), because it encourages people to find out more about him by reading his LinkedIn profile, or clicking through to his website from his Twitter profile (value proposition). He also shares content produced by others, because, if it’s valuable, readers may still want to find out about him.
Every quarter, Sebastian produces an e-book which explores a subject in depth. The ten page report often introduces a new trend in his area of expertise, something that his target audience has yet to learn about (content of value). The e-book features many examples from his own client projects, which gives him an opportunity to sell his skills and expertise (value proposition). He publishes the e-book on his website to download, in exchange for a full name, email address and company name. He promotes it at networking events, on his blog, and also uses Twitter, LinkedIn, AdWords, print ads and direct mail.
Sebastian actively seeks opportunities to speak at conferences, seminars, exhibitions, and business events. His presentations offer informative, practical advice (content of value), where he gives examples from his own client projects (value proposition). After the presentations, he makes sure to stay and meet members of the audience to identify any potential clients.
Sebastian uses highly focused print ads to promote his service. He buys quarter or half page ads in three entrepreneurial magazines, which are subscription based, and read by business owners nationwide. His adverts are often in the form of an advertorial, where he writes an informative article (content of value) which mentions his service and its benefits (value proposition).
Sebastian writes personalised letters to business owners he’d like to work with. In the letters, he introduces himself and briefly describes his service (value proposition). He then proceeds to give some free advice that is specific to their business sector (content of value). He hand writes the address on the envelopes, and uses adhesive stamps, because it makes them look like correspondence rather than sales letters, meaning they are more likely to be opened and read.
In order to effectively sell your products or services, you first need to get noticed by your target audience. The above is not an exhaustive list — there are other marketing methods (not explored here because they don’t pertain to Sebastian’s target audience), such as Facebook (including Facebook ads), Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, event sponsorship, competitions, flyers and promotional events.