The Internet has made information more valuable than ever before. This is particularly true for business-to-business marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, many companies continue to support marketing programs that fail to provide customers with credible, persuasive information. In the Information Age, credibility is key.
Credible marketing is not about being honest about your company’s value proposition (though that’s not a bad idea!). It’s about leveraging the power of third parties for references, providing information resources for customers, and promoting real world benefits of your products and services to drive sales.
Leverage testimonials for credibility
Companies and executives are bombarded with thousands marketing messages. They are not easily convinced by boastful claims. To influence decision-makers companies must go back to basics.
Differentiate your company by simplifying messaging. Focus on one or two key benefits. Don’t just explain the features of your product. Add credibility to marketing by featuring existing customers in testimonial promotions to highlight the tangible benefits that your products or services provide. There is no more credible tactic than testimonials. It continues to surprise me how few companies work with customers to enhance marketing campaigns.
Utilize public relations tactics like case history articles and new business “win” announcements to enhance credibility. Integrate these tactics into other elements of your marketing program, like advertising, trade shows and direct mail, to create message consistency. The credibility that third parties add to marketing programs is powerful.
Be a resource for customers
Today’s knowledge economy puts a premium on businesses having access to information. The Internet, with all of the information that it contains, is re-training workforces to value reliable resources of information. These resources aren’t exclusively limited to industry magazines or expensive consulting firms. Companies will seek information wherever they find value.
Marketing programs that provide customers and prospects with new resources for valuable information can create loyalty and drive brand sales.
The first step to becoming a resource for information is to position your company as a leader. Leading companies come in a range of sizes. They are not exclusively the large companies that quickly come to mind in high profile industries.
Begin by collecting the white papers, articles and presentations within your company. If the information doesn’t exist, work with thought leaders within your organization to create new projects. Organize the projects into high value and premium value categories. Edit the information so that it can be read quickly and efficiently.
Then make the information available. Create a “Resource Center” on your web site. Make all of the high value information available. Organize it into market-focused categories to allow customers to quickly search and locate information relevant to their business.
Provide customers with access to premium information but ask for contact information first. If visitors find value in the high value resources, they will be more likely to provide personal information to gain access to other information. This strategy can generate valuable leads from decision-makers and businesses that are interested in working with you.
Don’t simply rely on the Internet to distribute information. Develop literature for trade shows, speaking conferences and customer seminars. Send direct mail to customers and key prospects.
Your efforts will be rewarded as businesses proactively begin contacting you for product ideas, market insights and partnership opportunities. But remember, being a leader is a continuous process. Stay ahead of the competition by continuing to develop articles and presentations by tapping into the shared knowledge within your company.
The Benefits of Marketing Benefits
Too many companies continue to emphasize product and service features over the benefits that they provide. In today’s ultra-competitive economy, businesses will not make buying decisions without knowing the benefits of your products and services. Don’t make it difficult for customers to know business-enhancing benefits.
Don’t simply position your new widget as a “powerful new solution for the chemical processing industry”. This is too obscure. Instead, focus on the core benefit that it provides. Positioning the new widget as a “new automation technology that will significantly reduce processing time and cost for the chemical industry” is short, to the point, and very powerful.
This is not to say that you should eliminate all product features from marketing. Remember, credibility is key. Without specific facts to support your benefit-oriented marketing, prospects will think your claims are just fluff.
Competition is too great to continue inefficient marketing programs. Analyze the current credibility of your marketing campaigns and take steps to focus your efforts. Organized, credible marketing programs can prove the difference between success and failure.