My friend Stewart Ritchie across the pond over at poweredbycoffee in the UK recently wrote a blog post that struck a chord with me. Stewart is a great writer, and I agree with pretty much everything he says. So when he wrote about the importance of defining your marketing strategy, and dovetailing it with your consulting website, he had my attention. Here’s some snippets from his blog post below with my own take on things sprinkled in…
Marketing Has Goals – Your Marketing Strategy Is The Way Those Goals Are Reached
“Different kinds of businesses and products have different ways of selling. High-end consultancy will be sold to businesses in a very different way than a coffee shop sells to its patrons. The different ways these businesses approach their marketing is defined by their Marketing Strategy. Marketing has goals – your marketing strategy is the way those goals are reached.”
Stewart contrasts the marketing strategy of an artisan coffee shop, to that of the ever-present Starbucks. That’s him in the picture drinking coffee, by the way.
“Starbucks and the artisan shop, overall, have different customers and a different product targeted at those different customers. Their marketing strategies are different. The local shop can make it by having a better, more interesting product that people talk about precisely because it’s not Starbucks. Starbucks’ strategy is to provide the same thing on every city street, so you can never be without them when the craving calls.”
But if you’re reading my blog, chances are you don’t own a coffee shop. You’re more likely a business to business consulting or service company, since that’s the type of business I work with most. So let’s compare the coffee shop marketing strategy to a company selling high-end B2B consulting services…
“Consultancy service purchases are not made on impulse, these are carefully thought out purchases and engagements made to solve specific, expensive, problems within an organisation. These are purchases not decided by convenience, but on value and trust. They are based on how much value you can provide (how expensive the problem is) and how much we trust you to be able to do it.”
“Now we have a different problem. Rather than presenting an easily available, or superior, but still low-cost, product, our marketing must help our potential customers see how much we know, how good we are at doing it, and exactly how much it will improve their lives to let us fix that problem for them.“
Stuart’s Three Factors to A Marketing Strategy:
To craft your marketing strategy, you first need to ask yourself three questions.
1. Who is your customer?
This is key. It’s really unlikely that your target customer is everyone. You need to get specific. If you’re shouting loudly at everyone, then no one can hear you. Shout at a few people and maybe they can hear you. Focusing on a small group of people lets you focus your resources and get really good at serving this group of customers. If you position your messaging to speak directly to the problems they want solved, using the language they use as a group – you’ll appear as an insider to their industry and people will trust you more as a result.
2. What do you sell them?
Nobody is buying what you actually do. This goes back to goals; what you sell is a means to an end, a way of reaching a goal for your customer. If you’re an accounting software reseller, your customers are not buying “accounting software”, they are buying tools to help them run their business more profitably. You are selling them the opportunity to do run their business more profitably. Not software.
In my case – my clients don’t buy a website, they want to solve a problem, usually a marketing problem. A website is just one way of doing that. I sell solutions to online marketing problems, not websites.
3. Why do they buy from you?
Your market is probably crowded. Why does anybody choose you to solve the problem they need to be solved? What can you do to make sure that you are their top choice? What can you do to let them know you will provide more value in solving their problem than you cost them in money, time or energy? How can you provide them with more money time or energy?
By answering those questions, you will be able to generate the key information you need to build a marketing strategy.
How Does This Drive Marketing Strategy for poweredbycoffee?
Stewart Richie has a clear picture of his ideal client, and what he has to do to get their attention, so he can start building their trust. According to Stewart…
“poweredbycoffee is a solver of digital marketing problems for online businesses. We deal primarily with consultancy and service style businesses in the business to business market. We work with companies who are doing well and want to grow. Turn over at our target companies is from £500,000 to around £5,000,000. Ideally the company is big enough to have a team (~10 people) but the owners or founders are still the primary decision makers regarding the marketing activities of the company.
As we need to get the attention of the owners of companies of that size, who are aspirational and want to grow, we need to produce content that tells these individuals how we can solve the problems they have. How sound digital marketing strategy, design, and content can make massive differences to their bottom line. We need to solve the problem for them before they know it’s a problem.
Our service is expensive and a one time trip to our blog or website won’t build enough trust with our targets for them to feel comfortable reaching out to us. Our primary goal for the site is that they reach out to us, but we also have a secondary goal. We want to capture the information of the visitor to bring them back to the site either through email marketing or social media, ideally email marketing. Once we have captured the information and been given permission to send marketing material to our target, we can build trust and brand awareness with them by sending high quality educational content, that solves more of their problems, directly to them on a regular basis. We build trust and goodwill with the person, keeping at the top of their inbox and mind so when they come to needing a project done – we will be right at the top of their list. We may occasionally also reach out directly to people on the list who we know are engaged without content and fit out target directly.
They key for us is building trust with the potential client, they need to know that there is as little risk working with us as possible.”
Stewart’s Marketing Funnel
Stewart’s Marketing Strategy is purposeful and clear. Get potential clients to his website. Give them value through education. Build trust. Get them on the mailing list. Nurture and convert.
“You’ll see from our marketing plan that there are a variety of stages into which a person can fall at any given point in time. Firstly we earn the traffic of a first-time visitor, either to being linked to from a blog, search engine queries, Pay Per Click or other paid media. Next we answer questions for them and provide value, we seek to educate more than convince. If we have provided sufficient value to build some trust, that visitor will join one of our mailing list campaigns related to the content they read. Once on an email list we can send content and information that is valuable, converting this list into customers in our goal. This is our multi-step marketing funnel that leads to the sales funnel.”
If you attended my presentation at the Adagio Opportunity Conference this May, or you have taken my email course, you know Stewart and I speak the same language. For B2B consultants, providing valuable content on your website is a key component to generating leads from your website. Collecting email addresses in exchange for valuable content puts you on the path to building trust and demonstrating your expertise in your field.
Ultimately, this strategy will attract website visitors, and turn the best of them into paying clients.
Want to read the rest of Stewart’s blog post? You can find it here: http://poweredbycoffee.co.uk/a-website-isnt-a-marketing-strategy/ . Thanks Stewart! I’ll buy you a coffee next time you come to Vancouver!