April 21, 2014

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

'Information Marketing' and the Quest for the Holy Grail

Ron Stein | 5/20/2013

Content has become the holy grail of marketing in the last couple of years. People constantly talk about it, preach its virtues, and claim that it will fix your revenue problems.

Some people go so far as to say if you’re not content marketing, you’re not marketing at all.

Thinking like that is what gets companies into trouble. It really annoys me that content marketing has become so over hyped.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Using information in marketing is important, as long as you understand what it is and how to use it. And if it’s part of your overall marketing effort. Heck, I use it myself

The problem is, many business owners and marketers can’t even agree on what it is and why they want it. Then, as important as it is -- yes, when done right it is critical to your success -- content marketing is only one of the pillars of marketing effectiveness.

The foundation of solid marketing is portraying knowledge and expertise -- you and company have it and customers want it. You know, it’s the "information is power" thing.

Prospects just don’t know you have it yet. Either because they never heard of you and have no idea you exist, or somehow you managed to get in font of them and they’re just plain skeptical at first.

Ah, so now we have the essence of content marketing. It’s all about getting the information you have that your market needs into the hands of the right people in order for them make a decision on how to solve a particular problem -- using your product or service.

A better term for this is information marketing.

You want a clearly defined target audience to find your business and engage in a buying conversation. The objective is to make sure the right information is available during each stage of the buying cycle -- from awareness to close and then retention -- to drive action you want at that stage. The ultimate goal is revenue generation.

How do you do this? Let us count the ways.

Information is the currency of marketing and sales. Information comes in three primary forms -- written, visual, and spoken. Having a solid information marketing plan as part of your overall strategy will do wonders for your business and bottom line because it informs and educates; establishes expertise; develops trust; differentiates; nurtures and builds relationships; aligns solutions with the prospect’s needs and goals; makes the case for your offering; validates the decision; and brings customers back again and again. And let’s not forget that great content drives web traffic and generates leads.

Match content to where people are in the sales process. The information you create helps prospects through every step of the customer buying cycle. These range from awareness and research, to considering your offering and competitive comparison, to purchasing. Prospects must be guided from a place of suspicion to a place of trust. The different stages of the buying process require distinct information. Context is the key – it brings your business objectives into alignment with your prospects goals at a particular stage of the buying cycle. For instance, online and offline articles are a great way to gain visibility and generate leads, but not to close deals.

The way information gets delivered is almost endless. What do you do with all of the content you create? Facilitate your buyer’s journey with information delivery channels. Normally we think of channels as how products or service touch the market. In today’s information rich digital age, a channel can also be thought of how you’ll get your information to the people who matter. Think strategically and act frugally. Determine where your ideal prospects hang out online and offline. Literally map it out and fit the right content into the right delivery conduit into each step of where people are in the buying cycle. Yet, because your options are so many, be careful with your time and money. Some are a must like face-to-face meetings and your website, while others such as strategic partners, email newsletters, blogs, videos, events, social media, and print advertising simply depend on your target audience, your industry, and budget. Pick a few that make the most since for your business and test them.

Information marketing is all about giving people what they need to establish why your company is the obvious choice to do business with.

Do this by presenting information that answers questions that are relevant to your target audience. But not all at once. As you put a marketing plan together, you’ll need to think about what information needs to be created, when it’ll be used, how it’ll be delivered, in what form -- and what action you want your audience to take at a stage of the buying cycle.


Read earlier columns from Florida Trend's business coach, Ron Stein
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Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He works with small business owners, helping them to energize their marketing and sell more of their products and services. Ron has developed his own highly successful 7-step approach to winning new customers as a result of his experience as a small business owner, corporate CEO, marketing and business development executive, salesman, and mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com.

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