Turning audiences into buyers

buyersIn my book, Content Marketing Revolution, I focus on the five crucial steps to building a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship with your customers. It’s no secret that in the digital age content marketing is key to attracting, engaging and retaining an audience. But your audience only becomes valuable when you start converting them from people who read, watch and listen to your content to people who buy your stuff. This is where content that aims to nurture shifts to content that aims to sell.

Later this year, I’m publishing a book focusing on per-campaign transitions from content marketing to sales content, so I’ll be talking more about this over the next few months. But right now, I want to look at what it actually means to sell in the content age. Specifically, why does content play an increasingly important role in the customer’s journey towards a purchase?

Over the last decade, the entire journey a buyer takes when they make a purchase has fundamentally changed. In the digital age, 24 hour/365 day access to information via websites, apps and social media has revolutionised buyer behaviour. In the past, consumers had to work a lot harder to get reliable information to help them make a decision – to a greater extent they were guided through their journey by a salesperson, more overt marketing or simply a combination of need and lack of knowledge.

These days though, the buyer can be just as savvy and informed as the seller on the benefits and disadvantages of a product, how it compares to competitor products and even which vendor offers the cheapest price on the planet. The likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook have pulled the wool away from the buyer’s eyes – through product searches, ratings and millions of conversations – more than ever before, the consumer is going into a sale with eyes wide open.

While this information provides the consumer with more power, by using content strategically, the seller can channel this power and use it to inspire a purchase rather than block it. Using great content in the transition from content marketing to sales in a way that contextualises the buyer’s knowledge actually contributes to the sale, rather than complicating it.

There is a stage on your buyer’s journey that your content marketing must be accompanied by more sales-focused content if you are going to efficiently convert your audience into customers. During this stage, you must start to use your content to tell customers to buy – your content marketing should make the reasons why obvious.

In my next post, I’m going to talk about identifying the transition period between content marketing and sales content, highlighting the methods that will help you to start directing customer actions.

In the mean time, take a look at my book Content Marketing Revolution, which dissects the buyer’s journey and guides you through the five crucial steps that lead up to the big sell.

By Dane Brookes, Director at Group Dane and author of Content Marketing Revolution.

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Let go, start selling

sellingSelling isn’t a comfortable gear for most people to shift into. For a lucky few it comes naturally, but if you’re not a born salesperson, you probably find the whole idea of selling yourself, your ideas or your products unsettling.

Why is this? For some people, it comes from an inherent distrust of salespeople and the scenarios and types of persuasive messaging associated with them. We’ve all been in situations with salespeople on the phone, in person or online that have been uncomfortable or annoying. But equally, we have all been helped by salespeople that have encouraged us to buy great products that we genuinely wanted or needed – the difference is we probably didn’t think of them as salespeople.

Whether your job involves selling products or not, if you don’t adopt a sales mentality, you’ll struggle to get what you want in business, your career and your life. We all know people who seem to get everything they want more easily than everyone else – most often these people are just great at selling. Whether that means shifting more stock, securing promotions, or even getting to choose which restaurant you meet them at.

Start by changing the way you think about selling in general. Let go of any negative perceptions you may have about the ‘S’ word. Remember that the people who make you feel uncomfortable or pressurise you into making a poor decision are not selling – they are bullying. For me, selling isn’t about persuading people to doing something that isn’t right for them; it’s about making a robust and highly-personalised case for all of the genuine benefits the buyer will reap.

Ultimately, at the sharp end of any decision, the person in the hot seat needs to be clear on the reasons to act and have confidence in you and your proposition. There’s no room for uncertainty at the point of closure – so you must be ready and willing to persuade. It’s time to start selling.