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There were many great breakout sessions on offer at the 2016 CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner Conference in Bishopsgate, London, last week. One of these came from Chris Marr, founder of the Content Marketing Academy, who delivered an engaging Marketing Masterclass.
Marr kicked off his session by discussing how technology and the emergence of the Web has changed the sales cycle and role of salesman, forever blurring the barriers between business and consumer marketing.
With just a WiFi connection, the new hyper-informed customer has access to a world of information and resources, often removing the need for sales entirely. Marr said 70 percent of purchasing decisions are already made without the need for sales involvement. This poses the question; what do we need to do to win more business?
The answer, Marr said, is content marketing. “This isn’t nuclear engineering, but a set of marketing principles that if applied and delivered properly, can generate some astonishing results,” he said.
Marr said new digital consumers are looking for someone who understand their needs, answers questions and is someone they can trust. However, many organisations are making the mistake of trying to sell at them, which can create a lack of trust. “A lack of trust is a real negative, you cannot have success without trust,” Marr said.
Marr confirmed that businesses need to shift their focus to invest in educating prospective customers and your website must have information to educate and help decisions.
Marr went on to say that your customers are researching, reading reviews and seeking endorsement to potential purchasing decisions through various digital channels. Failure to address this will result in you missing out on opportunities you never knew you had.
This is the zero moment of truth; a point in the buying cycle where a prospect researches something they wish to purchase – often before the seller is even aware they exist. “People judge you online before they you judge you offline,” Marr said. “The best organisations in the world know more, get closer to and emotionally connect with their clients”
Content marketing can be the answer here. This can take many forms – blogs, videos, guides, e-books, etc., but all should be designed to help guide the purchasing decision.
Marr stressed that businesses need to start thinking like their customers and focus on providing answers to help the decision-making process. Content marketing can also be a great tool in the sales process, as it can often pre-qualify customers before sales gets involved, reducing the time required for the sales cycle and cost of sale.
Marr offered the following advice to help get your business in shape:
Marr closed the session by stressing that apathy and doing nothing is a bad decision. It is important to put regular effort into marketing and change your expectations. Content marketing is not a silver bullet and won’t instantly fix sales. It won’t suddenly bring a flood of customers knocking at the door, but with energy, effort and patience can deliver business changing results.
If you would like to improve your marketing, download the CompTIA Marketing Toolkit.