A popular marketing saying goes like this…
A person visits a hardware store to buy a quarter-inch drill-bit not because they need a quarter-inch drill-bit, but because they need a quarter-inch hole.
To me, this anecdote is the essence of marketing: people aren’t necessarily searching for your product or service, but are looking for a solution to their problem.
That’s how more B2B businesses need to approach marketing: speaking less about their company, and speaking more about their customer.
Here’s a simple strategy for increasing increasing traffic and leads by speaking with, and listening to, your customers.
Identify Customer Ailments
This is the most important step, and the hardest.
You need to engage customers, prospects, your sales team, your call center, and anyone else involved in the sales and customer experience process.
Call them, survey them, sit down with them – whatever it takes to find out more about why they need the “quarter-inch drill-bit”.
Ask them questions like…
- Customers – What problem did (your company) solve for them?
- Customers – Why did you choose (your company)?
- Past Prospects – Why didn’t you choose (your company)?
- Sales – What are the top three reasons you close sales?
- Sales – What are the top three reasons you don’t close sales?
- Customer Service – What are the top five questions you get, what are your answers?
- Customer Service – What are the top five complaints you get, and top five reasons people say “thank you”?
What you’ll glean from this process is a very, very useful list of customer “ailments”…for which you can position your business as “the cure”.
Be the “Cure” to Customer “Ailments”
By now you know your customer pain points, ailments, FAQs, and reasons why they did or didn’t choose you over competitors.
So now take the next step: stop talking about your company and how great you are, and start talking to your customer.
Position your communications, your marketing, and your company as the “cure” for your customer ailments.
Here’s three tactics to help you be the “cure” while increasing traffic and quality leads:
Be the Cure with Content & SEO
If you know your customers’ FAQs, ailments, and pain points, creating valuable content (I mean truly useful) should be easy.
Here’s some ideas:
- Top five customer FAQs (and your answers) could each be a blog post
- A step-by-step guide on how to solve x, spend less time doing y, save money on z
- A webinar about solving x problem with (your product)
- Videos and how-to’s
- Case studies and white papers about how Company ABC solved x problem, leading to increase in y
All this content will be great for SEO as well, because people Google “questions” (e.g. how do I…) often before they start Googling products and services.
And speaking of searching…
Be the Cure with Paid Search
Yes, paid search.
First, the B2B purchase cycle is long, and a lot of purchasers may just be in the early stages of researching and looking for solutions. Paid search or PPC can help you target those in the early stages by offering things like White Papers, Case Studies, and Webinars – soft sells, in other words, for people who aren’t nearly ready to purchase.
Second, it can be cheaper to bid on long-tail, question-type keywords than on general or broad terms.
Here’s an example: let’s say your company integrates ecommerce & accounting systems for businesses, the cost per click (CPC) of a broad term like “Ecommerce Integration” would be about $21 according to Google.
However, a long-tail, question-type keyword like “how to send orders from Magento to NetSuite” would cost about $2 per click.
If you approach paid search with the mindset that people are searching for solutions to their problems, as opposed to your company’s products or services, you’ll be very successful.
Be the Cure with Social & Customer Experience
Again, if you know what your customers’ ailments are, position your company as the “cure”.
Use social media to listen for those expressing their pain points, whether it’s setting up alerts and hashtags, answering questions on Quora or LinkedIn groups, or using Twitter as a customer support channel.
Think of your website, is it about your company or your customer? (hint: it should be the latter).
Think about your tradeshow booth, is it about your company or solving your customers’ problems?
Think of when customers call in to your company, should you tell them to press 2 to speak to a sales person, or press 2 to take the first step in solving problem x?
Remember, they don’t need a quarter-inch drill-bit, they need a quarter-inch hole.