Gaining the attention of potential customers is no easy task. Your target audience is bombarded with a slew of messages every day. Whether we’re at home or work, in the car, or on our phone, tablet, or laptop, we live in a sea of communication. And the amount of information we swim through every minute is staggering.
Consider that every minute, Internet users:
In order to break through this noise, connect with your target market, and generate more sales, you must first understand how today’s media-rich environment has influenced the way consumers make purchasing decisions.
The Rise of Self-Directed Consumers
This proliferation of information has altered the way people make purchasing decisions. Consumers no longer exclusively rely upon the expert advice of a salesperson, small business owner, or large corporation. Many consumers take steps to educate themselves about you, your product, or service, and the amount of information consumed prior to making a decision is mind-boggling. The number of sources consulted before making a purchase averages 10.4, almost doubles to 18.2 if a person is buying a car, and decreases to 5.8 when choosing a quick-serve restaurant.
The expanse of third-party resources people check before making a purchase has tremendous implications for a business. Today’s buyers may be anywhere from two-thirds to 90 per cent of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor. This means the vast majority of your target market will traverse nearly the entire buying process before you even know his or her name. These changes have given rise to the self-directed consumer.
4 Tips to Close the Sale with a Self-Directed Consumer
After recognizing a certain need or want, self-directed consumers normally seek out information to further understand their situation, answer their questions, and find solutions to their problems. By the time they reach out to a vendor, they have basically made a purchase decision.
Adapting to this new buying process is vitally important to the well-being of your company. Historically, companies predominately found customers; today, customers predominately find companies. Instead of relying exclusively on paid media to reach out to customers, you need to help customers find you. This small pivot will make a tremendous difference in generating more sales for your company.
Here are four tips to help you make this transition, establish loyalty with your target market, and close the self-directed consumer.
1. Create One Location for Your Audience
Creating a website for your audience to engage with you online is key. Customers are three times more likely to visit a company’s site than to engage with them on Facebook. Treat social media, banner ads, and paid media as secondary outlets that point back to your primary location online.
Create one central location for your target audience to engage with your company, the ideas you espouse, and the benefits you provide.
2. Provide Value
Create content that provides value for your customers. When it comes to your product or service, consumers have questions. And they’re in search for answers. Empathize with your audience, understand what they need to know, and provide answers to their questions. These simple steps will help you foster trust, loyalty, and long-term relationships with your audience.
3. Determine the Format and Channel
We all consume information in a variety of ways. From the way we access content (mobile, tablet, laptop, etc.), to the type of content we consume (web, audio, video, print), and from the source we obtain content, every individual has a preference when it comes to gathering information.
Your goal as a business is to deliver your content in the shape, way, fashion, and form your target audience prefers. Whether it’s blog posts, social media updates, or email marketing, determine the format and channel your audience prefers to utilize. Consider leveraging platforms—like Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud—that allow you to better understand your customers and send them more targeted messages. Think through whom you’re trying to reach, where they spend their time online, and how they access the Internet.
4. Help Your Audience Make a Decision
Compel your readers to take action. This seems simple enough, but calls to action are often overlooked. In fact, one study found 70 per cent of small business B2B websites lacked this next step.
Before creating content, it’s important to ask, “What is my goal with this content?” Whether it’s to create a brand impression, rank for a specific keyword, or grow your email list, determine the purpose of your content. This will not only help you focus your content creation, it will provide a tangible next step for the self-directed consumer.
1. “Consumers of all types expect to find answers on the Internet now, and companies that can best provide that information garner trust, and sales, and loyalty.” — Marcus Sheridan (Youtility, xi)
2. “If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life.” — Jay Baer (Youtility, pg. 3)
3. “Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” —Andrew Davis (Source)
4. “If you have a good story to tell, tell it in a way that’s authentic conversation with the customer. You can’t just preach to the customer. You have to engage them, so that they can come to learn and believe it, and build that trust with you.” — Joel Yashinsky (Source)
5. “You have to empathize with your target audience in three ways: How they discover information, their preferences for consumption…and what motivates them to take action.” — Lee Odden (Source)
6. “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.” — Mary Kay Ash (Source)
7. “Most of all, I discovered that in order to succeed with a product you must truly get to know your customers and build something for them.” — Marc Benioff (Source)
8. “The key in mastering any kind of sales is switching statements about you and how great you are and what you do, to statements about them, and how great they are and how they will produce more and profit more from ownership of your product or service.” — Jeffrey Gitomer (Source)
9. “I like to think of sales as the ability to gracefully persuade, not manipulate, a person or persons into a win-win situation.” — Bo Bennett (Source)
10. “A marketer can spend plenty on promoting a product, but unless consumers are actively engaged in believing the story, nothing happens.” — Seth Godin (All Marketers Are Liars)
11. “Useful content accelerates potential buyers along their journey.” — Peter O’Neil (Source)
12. “Today, I see my business as a content marketing company. In other words, my entire goal is to give more valuable, helpful, and remarkable content to consumers than anyone else in my field, which will in turn lead to more sales.” — Ann Handley (Content Rules)
13. “Your customers don't buy your product to do your company a favour. They're doing it because your product makes their lives better. So if you want to sell something, you need to explain how you're helping them.”—Nadia Eghbal (From Ann Handley, Everybody Writes, Source)
14. “These days, people want to learn before they buy, be educated instead of pitched.” — Brian Clark (Source)
15. “Great content is the best sales tool in the world.” — Marcus Sheridan (Source)
16. “A sales team armed with content—content inspired by their own insights—is a sales team that can more effectively close deals.” — Hana Abaza (Source)
17. “Leveraging content throughout the sales process is a powerful way to educate and persuade potential customers, clarify the value proposition, manage objections, and expedite the sales cycle.” — Hana Abaza (Source)
18. “Any content that shows the value of your offerings and highlights the success of your customers is an important, credible asset for your sales team.” — Amanda Maksymiw (Source)
19. “In this digital age, it's increasingly important for marketing to play a bigger role in helping sales not just get your message in front of a customer, but to make it their message—something that the buyer cares enough about to talk to your rep and to do something that upsets the status quo as a result.” — Laura Ramos (Source)
20. “To maximize the chances of securing the deal when the time is right, you need to stay in touch—and marketing can help by producing materials to keep your business top-of-mind.” — Richard Young (Source)
21. “When it comes to today’s consumer, if we give them enough valuable content and information, we will in-turn build a relationship of trust with the prospect before we’ve ever even met.” — Marcus Sheridan (Source)
22. “The paradox is the more info you give away, the more people will buy what you have to give.” — Brian Clark (Source)