Living in Orlando we have gotten used to the idea of checking the house and surroundings looking for weak spots that could become an issue when the inevitable storm arises.
I sit here now having come through a loud and rainy Sunday night (90+ mph winds and 10+ inches of rain) courtesy of Hurricane Irma. As I look outside I see branches all over the yard and street and our screened in porch over the pool has one wall damaged. Many have it much worse so we were blessed to come through it safe and sound. Before the storm we did our best to secure all items that might be blown around and cause damage, we tested all parts of the house to make sure they were in solid shape, and we prepared inside the house for the worst with lots of extra food and water. Once the storm came we hunkered down in a safe place and waited it out. Once the skies cleared we cleaned up the mess and got back to life.
This cycle of preparation, storm, and clean-up, that will inevitably be repeated next year and the year after, got me thinking about our clients and their businesses. How well do they prepare for the coming storms, how well do they weather them, and how quickly can they clean up?
There are a few standard questions we get when a we talk to a prospect for our business.
"How do we grow revenue using our website and digital marketing?"
"How do we get in front of more qualified buyers?"
Most questions revolve around these two central issues for B2B companies. In both cases preparation is the key. The old saying 'the best time to do marketing is when you don't need it' is true. When you have a down turn or lose key customers unexpectedly it is too late to start marketing. You must be marketing now, when your sales are good, waiting will inevitably result in a delay in results. This is certainly logical, you can't generate revenue much faster than your average sales cycle.
The answer is to build an audience, drive engagement with that audience, and be there helping them all of the time. Not just when you need them (meaning that you need them to buy) but all of the time. If you have earned their trust by always helping them all the time then you have the opportunity to add more value from a sales perspective and grow your business. You still can't sell your way to growth but you can help your way there.
Riding out the storm
Waiting for increased success while doing the same things you have always done is a recipe for disaster. The world around us is changing like never before, technology has radically changed the way buyers buy everything. You know it in your own life but yet so many we talk to have not translate that understanding into their businesses. They run the same ad campaigns, staff their sales teams the same way, pump and dump 'content' (mostly product literature) and think they are doing something different, create a website that talks about how great they are, send emails talking about their great products, and on and on.
And even worse, they double down on their failed strategies and outmoded thinking when things slow down.
We are in the middle of a giant storm. Buyers run this process now. They are in control of the information and the buying process. There is no riding this one out and hoping the glory days of cold calling, outbound advertising, and the customer will buy what we want to sell are long gone....and they are not coming back.
We live in a time where the storm becomes the norm. Changes are here in every industry even if you don't know it yet.
If we are living in a constant storm of change how do we possibly clean-up? We get rid of the waste, the debris that comes with the storm.
Waste is whatever your customers do not want or find valuable. Manufacturers know this concept from the lean philosophy applied to production operations. But it applies to your marketing and sales as well.
Your vague marketing-speak nonsense about best in class, great service, high quality and other non-specific and non-value added language is considered waste by your audience. No one reads it so no engages with your content. Overly technical jargon falls into this category as well. People want to know if you can help them solve their problems and improve their ability to get their job done. If you are talking about anything other than that then you are creating waste.
You must understand your customer to be able to help them and to create marketing and sales value that they recognize and reward. The only way to do that is to ask them. Ask your target prospects what matters to them, what problems they struggle with, what issue keep them awake at night. Ask the contacts who didn't buy from you why they chose someone else. Ask customers why they buy from you? If you are not asking these types of questions regularly then you are creating waste in your marketing and sales.
And you never stop removing the waste and trying to improve - your customers will demand it.
Will your business be prepared? Is it prepared for the storms of today?
We were fortunate that the storm left us relatively unscathed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in FL and TX that were not so lucky.