A.R.T. = Attract. Retain. Transcend
Sales & Marketing as an ART? That’s SMART!
In this article I’ll walk you through the basics of inbound marketing while explaining a few keys principles that will help you take full advantage of your online sales and marketing efforts.
Let’s Get Started
The process of attracting an audience online and converting them into customers is evolving faster today than ever before and keeping up can quickly become a full time job.
When it comes to the web, you either learn how to do it yourself, or hire a pro. It has become so easy to build a website that everyone is doing it and honestly, I see no problem with that.
However, many of those people now want to sell you something and the internet is quickly becoming a flea market of monotonous content and online stores with lots of things to sell but no real value to deliver.
Sure, you can go build a website and install a store, but when it comes down to actually selling something then I think you will find that there is more to the process than meets the eye.
New School vs Old School Sales
So many people are stuck in the old school thought process of how sales and marketing should work. They have not taken the time to watch and study its evolution. A process which is speeding up daily.
They still focus on the grind of cold calling, door knocking and sales stalking. Not that these methods don’t work, but as times and technology changes, so should your approach to sales.
Beware of False Social Success
It seems like everyone is a marketer these days, or at least claims to be. I find it funny when someone tells me that they are a marketer and then gives me a blank stare when I ask them what they think about companies like HubSpot, MOZ or CopyBlogger. So many people have jumped into the industry to become “social media managers” that I can’t help but roll my eyes when someone starts to tell me about how good they are at getting “likes” for their clients on Facebook.
Considering that Facebook has lost most of it’s value to marketers over the last couple years, I find it insulting that so many people want you to pay them to artificially supplement your social credibility. If numbers are all you’re after then there are a million places where you can buy fake traffic, but if you are really trying to set yourself apart, then forget about padding your vanity stats and instead focus your efforts on the the actual ART of online sales.
Your website, not social media should be the base of operations for everything you do online. Sure, social media is a good tool for engaging your audience but think of the networks as just that. Tools.
You should think of social media as the air conditioner in your sales car. Sure it’s great to have, but if it goes out, the car should still drive. So roll down your windows and learn how to survive on the open web. It’s easier than you think and it is considerably more effective for your online sales presence in the long term.
By relying on social media as the sole driver for your online business, you are really just building business for the network itself. Not to mention that a single change in the way those social networks work could leave you stripped of you of your ability to access that network or dramatically diminish your engagement in the blink of an eye. Don’t believe me, just watch the video below.
Instead of building your business on social media, your focus should be on making your website more social. Incorporate some of the stuff that makes social media so great into the website itself, and then focus on using social media as a distribution channel for your awesome content.
This way you are in charge of the platform, you control the data (subscribers, emails, platform, etc) and no one can get in your way.
Is it a little more difficult? Yes.
Can you do it? I think so.
Heck, look at what I’ve built and I can’t even type properly. Seriously. I use an advanced chicken peck technique. But hey, the words still read the same way.
So with no further delay, here they are. Three simple steps to master the ART of online sales. Think of it as the master key to your online sales lock! #YoureWelcome
Step 1 – Attract
Because you must earn trust from an audience before you can sell them anything.
The first step to selling online is to attract eyeballs. Sure you can do this with paid search and media buys, but these are all ad based marketing efforts. Yes, they can deliver an instant return, but only as long as you keep spending money to get it.
If we are going to progress as marketers then we need to start building long term online sales assets that drive traffic organically. Inbound marketing is the process by which you do just that, and learning how to blend original content with your paid advertising should be the first step in building your online sales monster.
You should be using your paid advertising as a tool to find out what is working and to hone in on keywords that are relevant to your conversion process. From there you should start to put together a plan that revolves around creating a library of relevant content for your ideal buyer. A resource for them to fully understand you, your product and how buying it will benefit them.
Don’t be afraid to let your story shine through when you start to work on a plan for your content marketing. Some businesses get so caught up in industry lingo and technical jargon, that they forget that their prospects are also human. They forget that most people just like a good story.
If you can find ways to combine your great products with some compelling online storytelling, then you are well on your way to online sales success. Just remember to jab a couple times before throwing that hook!
Step 2 – Retain
Because keeping customers is easier than getting new ones.
We all know that it’s less expensive to keep existing customers than it is to gain new ones so how come so few businesses are spending time marketing to their existing customer base?
If you truly want to perfect the art of online sales, then it comes down to leveraging existing relationships and developing a plan for your current clients that is just as robust as your efforts to acquire new ones.
Most sales organizations work so hard to drive new sales, that they often leave their buyers on the edge of a cliff after they make a purchase. They give their buyers little direction after the sale and miss out on one of the most opportunistic times to bring that customer back around for a relationship building experience.
The customer has just expressed the ultimate faith in you as a business by buying your product. Their trust and emotion for the things you do are not likely to reach this level again without more work from the sales team. This is why it’s important to close your sales loop and have a defined plan to transition your buyer into the next phase of your sales process.
By inviting your customers into a more personal side of your business you make them feel comfortable with their choice and reassure them that they did in fact, make the right decision. You can then set them up for cross sell/up-sell opportunities, repeat sales, and more importantly, referrals. The holy grail of any sales organization.
You don’t have to look further than companies like Evernote, Apple, Amazon, etc. to see how they have created cults of customers who then become an extension of their marketing departments.
The only way to build this level of relationship with your buyer is to open up. To connect emotionally with them and to make them feel like they are part of your business family as opposed to just another revenue opportunity. It is up to you to create that connection and buyers are hungry for that type of sales experience.
Just think about how much you hate a crappy sales process and then put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. Would they be happy with your post purchase procedures? If not then you might want to spend a little more time working on retaining your existing customers before going out and spending all their money trying to get new ones.
Step 3 – Transcend
Because f#@k the competition!
So many businesses spend all their time worrying about and copying what the competition is doing that they forget why they got into business in the first place. They forget that innovation is the real driver in any business and that focusing on the competition too much can cause them to stagnate.
That is why you are in business isn’t it? To deliver value to your customers? To grow and build on your vision for how the things you do can make the world you live in a better place?
Why then would you spend so much time copying the competition as opposed to setting yourself apart from them. Why not try something new? Why not go out on a limb and share a portion of yourself that makes it immediately apparent to your prospect that you are different from everyone else they are considering for this purchase.
I’m not telling you to ignore the competition completely, just that you need to elevate yourself above them in order to stand out. This is something you can only do by being different as well as being better than the competition.
Throw some personality into your sales copy, tell me a joke now and again and make me think that there are actual humans working for you. Make me feel like your goal is to do more than just sell me something and I’ll be infinitely more likely to buy from you.
We live in a world where everyone is always trying to sell us something so when you actually make me feel like you care then you win. When you give me value before I buy from you, then you win again. And when you give me the resources I need to make an informed buying decision with no sleazy sales pressure, then you will most likely win me over as a customer.
Just don’t suck. Seriously, we live in a world where we are constantly under attack from some sales pitch, so why not tell me a story instead? Why not tell me why you got into business in the first place? Why not tell me about your amazing employees and how they help you do what you do better? Anything other than just trying to cram your product down my throat.
All of these things can go a long way in the process of taking me from a shopper to a buyer, and they are definitely things you should be thinking about right now. Because whether you want to admit it or not, the social sales revolution is upon us, and if you aren’t careful, you might just get left in the dust.