Al Morgan, Director of Solution Marketing and Dale Rensing, Porter Consulting Senior Market Analyst
As we’ve discussed, solution selling is different from other sales in the fact that you need to bring multiple stakeholders to the conclusion that your solution is the best option. By identifying specific stakeholder personas, you can craft your content to target their specific pain points. And by understanding where and when to target them along the buyer’s journey, you know what pieces of collateral you need to create to bring your message to their doorstep.
Now we’d like to give you some practical advice on the last mile: four marketing tactics to get your message absorbed and acted on. The tactics are Social Media, Direct Marketing, Sales Tools, and Gated Content.
Modern Marketing through Social Media
In the early part of the buyer’s journey, it’s imperative that people know that your solution exists. Even traditional broad-brush, outbound marketing, big-budget advertising campaigns and splashy media events now depend on social media. Social media can be used by itself or combined with other marketing tactics for more nimble and interactive marketing campaigns. It gives you the ability to connect directly with your customer and address his or her pain points immediately.
Social media is an effective way to engage with customers at every step of the buyer’s journey, It can help you develop relationships, drive revenue growth, increase customer loyalty, and ultimately help you to build advocacy. It lets you connect directly with customers, learn about their preferences and needs, develop strategies that appeal to them specifically, and even extend your reach.
Let’s take a look at what a social media campaign strategy might look like:
Build awareness of your solution with a specific set of customers
A long-term blogging program covering a range of topics of interest to this audience
- Identify and gather audience by friending and requesting likes.
- Combine SME (subject matter expert) authored blogs with others that you curate from different sources to point out how well you know your subject matter. Vary the topics, switching between vendor-specific articles and thought-leadership pieces to appeal to a broad audience and encourage referrals.
- Target messages to distinct personas and different audiences within the target segment; i.e. sales, finance, engineering, etc.
- Provide pointers to your website, whitepapers, and other materials.
This inexpensive approach can open many doors. Even if people aren’t interested in what you have to sell today, if your content is worthwhile, it will remain in the back of their minds, ready for the right moment. Learn more about how social media can help by reading our Porter Crunch Time Whitepaper – Get Real Results from Social Media. Interested in how your current investments stack up? Consider a Porter SocialMediaBuilder™ performance program.
High Value Direct Marketing
Direct marketing, the business of selling products or services directly to the public, has evolved. Often viewed skeptically, customers are right to complain about being constantly interrupted with phone calls, text messaging, and emails that have no direct relevance to them. However, you can change the game and become an inbox favorite.
To do this correctly, knowing your audience is paramount. Make sure that you are delivering material that is of specific value to them. Ensure you’ve worked your personas thoroughly prior to embarking on an effort like this. Next, make sure you have material that is valuable. Infographics that succinctly show your value with pertinent numbers and graphic data can help the Influencer build their case for your solution. TCO studies that backup your claims can be of great assistance to number crunchers or other Blockers. Coupons for discounts and services will always get attention.
Here’s what an effective high value direct marketing campaign could look like. Refer to the Porter Crunch Time Whitepaper – Navigating Complex Sales In Today’s Mobile Age for more details:
Migrate customers from another vendor’s platform to yours
An email campaign to a carefully selected set of customers that encourages them to evaluate a set of deep-dive assets
- Prepare collateral to support your points and ensure they can be linked via gated URLs. These gated assets can be things like webinars, benchmarks, whitepapers or analyst reports.
- Tune lists by personas and roles, so everyone gets a message that matters to them
- Distribute succinct, role-oriented emails or texts that point to these assets.
- Recommend other links with additional information that would be of interest to different stakeholders so the recipient will forward your message on.
- Collect the information customers provide by signing in to receive the gated asset, thereby organically growing your list.
- Consider following up with a Thank You
An Easy-to-Use Set of Sales Tools
As we’ve pointed out, not every piece of collateral is pertinent for each stakeholder. That’s why it’s important to have a breadth of material in your arsenal. Ensure that each piece arrives on the doorstep of the right individual. Sometimes it’s simple as packaging it with a simple README that guides the telemarketer or rep at the other end on how to distribute the material.
The key to success is ensuring ease of use both for the deliverer as well as the recipient. Your sales team needs something that they can quickly pack-and-go with everything they need at their fingertips.
Here is one example:
Engage resellers to sell a new solution into their installed base.
A set of tools that makes it easy for reseller management to promote the solution to their sales and presales team.
- Engage the reseller management team with a revenue/margin-based “What’s in it for me?” presentation.
- Make life simple for the sales reps with a tablet-friendly qualification guide, including qualification questions, vendor resources, etc.
- Provide links that make brochures and papers easy to share during or just after the qualification conversation (see gated content, below)
- Offer presales teams an assessment-in-a-box that piggybacks on the qualification guide but takes customers down a level deeper.
- Tie everything together with short videos that explain the tools and how they complement one another.
The Gated Content Approach
As the last of our recommended marketing tactics, consider using gated content. These are pieces for which an interested individual is required to sign up. As they do, you receive information on that customer that can be analyzed for follow-up. This can help you tune the campaign or improve deal follow through. Offering a rich, multi-campaign set of assets and analyzing usage can yield insights at the product or solution level.
Gated content can be used in conjunction with any of the other tactics above. The important thing to remember about gated content, however, is that you need to promote it well enough that the customer will actually sign in to get it. This may mean you need to develop an additional piece of collateral, like a content summary. Think of the gated content as a product you need to sell. Instead of receiving money for it, you are receiving something even more valuable – information. An example of a gated content campaign might look like this:
Provide air-cover content that addresses specific purchase-related concerns.
Content is placed behind a firewall for which the sign-in page URL can be delivered digitally through other marketing campaigns.
- Create a vendor-sponsored, 3rd-party assessment of the solution that also provides additional value independent of the discussion of the sponsoring vendor’s product, like a TCO study.
- Place the material behind a firewall with a sign-in page to collect information you require from the requestor/customer.
- Tweet, blog, and otherwise promote the gated content well enough for customers to want to sign up and receive the material.
- Retain customer’s information for future analytics.
At Porter, we understand solution marketing and persona engagement. We start by interviewing a broad swath of marketing, sales, presales, and even channel partners that touch deals and the customer organizations. We focus on what matters to each role of the decision team and why. We can recommend content, tools, and strategies to accelerate your buyer’s journey. Contact us to discuss your needs. Together we can build a plan for short and long term results.
Al brings 30 years of IT solutions marketing to bear on current marketing and sales challenges. Technologies change constantly, but it still takes content, skills and confidence to win the big decisions. You can find more blogs and content from Al at www.porterconsulting.net. Porter Consulting is a marketing services consulting company who can you help you grow revenue.
Dale Rensing has been helping customers envision the benefits of technology, from local area networks to cloud technologies and IoT for over 25 years. You can find more blogs and content from Dale at www.porterconsulting.net. Porter Consulting is a marketing services consulting company who can you help you grow revenue.