Whenever I walk into a store and a salesperson rushes over to ask me if I need help, I say “no thank you.”

I know that they can help me make a decision more quickly. I know that by exploring the store on my own that it’s very possible that I’ll miss something that a salesperson could have directed me to. But I’m going to do it my way. I want to explore for myself without the salesperson biasing my search. I don’t need pressure to buy until I’m sure that’s the direction I’m heading in.

Here’s an Internet reality that marketing departments must deal with – prospective clients are shopping the same way – they want to do research on their own. They want to see what else is out there. They want to ask trusted colleagues about their various options. Research by SiriusDecisions, Inc. shows that for B2B companies, 70 percent of the buying process occurs before the sales team is ever contacted. Before someone buys your service or product, they are already two-thirds of the way to a decision.

So how do marketers fill up that 70 percent? How do they create a favorable impression and engage with the prospect before they ever know who the prospect is?

The answer, obviously, is marketing. But the tenor of marketing has is changing. Despite the fact that screaming car dealers are still producing ads in which they scream, most potential customers don’t want to be treated that way. Because the Internet has given us the tools to educate ourselves, that’s what most customers choose to do. This is certainly true of potential customers in a business setting.

How do you create a message-oriented marketing campaign that catches the attention of prospects and leaves them with a positive feeling? The answer is to create some type of thought leadership campaign. There are many ways to do that, but we are (obviously) partial to a news content marketing – to bringing a journalistic sense to reporting on your own industry. A business that creates a platform that delivers journalistically sound information is providing a valuable service to its prospects and customers; it is curating the industry discussion. This positions the organization as a go-to information source; it creates engagement. It helps to fill that 70 percent of the buying process.

It takes a serious commitment to execute against a content strategy; most organizations that undertake it fail because their attention soon fades.

But it seems to us that it makes sense to keep working on filling up that 70 percent.

 

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