Jan 192015
Risk and the sales approach

graphic courtesy of christopherpenn.com

To be an effective marketing consultant today, you have to embrace continual learning. That’s something that is easy to say, but hard to do.

It’s hard to follow through on for two main reasons — human nature and time. We all say we will pursue continual learning, but human nature prefers to focus time and energy on expertise we’ve already accumulated. Often we’ve spent significant time and money acquiring specific skills, and perhaps had them codified via an expensive degree. It’s simply human nature to want to put that expertise to use, and not challenge it on a consistent basis.

The hours in a day are finite, and therefore it’s challenging to work hard for clients and then work on continual learning. Having the discipline to do so however is vital, especially in today’s constantly evolving online and content marketing environments. Consultants have to invest the time to keep their skills current and give the most effective counsel to clients.

One of my favorite ways to remain current is to follow thought leaders in the red-hot content marketing space. Sometimes you can learn new skills, like this DIY for competitive SEO analysis that I tweeted out recently. Other times you can find things you already know explained in new and exciting ways.

This month I found two examples of content marketing truisms explained in a fresh way. The first was from Christopher Penn of SHIFT Communications. He gave me a new take on something I’ve shared with clients for years — that an expensive product or service with a long sales cycle is perfect for content marketing. Penn did this by contrasting trust and perceived risk in marketing.

It makes perfect sense – the bigger the risk you’re asking the buyer to take, the more you need to earn trust well before you go for the close. You need to educate a prospect first; share your knowledge before you ever ask for anything. Penn also uses an effective analogy in the title to get his message across — “You can’t sell airplanes in adwords.” It all adds up to an exciting new way to communicate content marketing requirements to clients and prospects.

The second find was a guest post by Wade Harman in Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert publication. Wade shares five of what he calls “persuasion strategies” for creating effective content, and they are all right on. He talks about:

  • High quality content
  • Sharing what you know
  • Be targeted
  • Start listening
  • Be the authority

But what really struck me was a description of what B2B content marketing is NOT:

“The basis of my Relationship Marketing Podcast is that, as entrepreneurs, we must learn how to stop marketing to the masses and start becoming heroes to one individual at a time.” (my bold)

What a fantastic way to put it! Stop thinking lowest common denominator in your marketing and start engaging with each prospect as an individual, winning their respect and trust. This approach underscores the cultural change often required for a client to “get” the content marketing approach.

With my firm approaching its one year anniversary, I’m fortunate to report I’m usually very busy. But I’ll always make time for continual learning, making sure I’m informed by insights like these from other professionals in content marketing. My clients expect it, and it makes me a more effective counselor to them.



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