While some will tell you that “inbound marketing” – or “content strategy” – is going to save your business, don’t forget about “relationship management.”
In the middle of a client discussion about CRM systems and the usual shift to the “Year of Content” came up.
“If we have the right content strategy, won’t inbound marketing mean that we don’t need a sales force?”
Ah, if only it were that easy.
Let’s think about professional services, or technology, or something else that doesn’t involve a physical product being sold. (This is a bad example for pizza places, so, if that’s what you do, I’ll take a large, pepperoni and sausage. Please.) In a lot of cases, there is not a sales strategy – you have a founder or two, you have a Rolodex of relationships, and you pick up the phone and start calling people. OR, the technology you’ve built is such that you become the “obvious expert” and are now finding a path being beaten to your door.
So it’s darn easy to say that, instead of focusing on sales, let’s focus on “content” or “thought leadership” AS our sales strategy.
And then you get this funnel, and then you manage the funnel, and then you get people through the funnel so they become buyers. Through the magic of online, inbound, content marketing, you’ve got it all under control.
And you’ve ignored Relationship Management.
The Automation Economy we’re in is pretty dangerous for this sort of thing. We’re afraid to build relationships with current customers or clients because we think our automated Content Marketing Strategy will act as the relationship builder for us. Danger, Will Robinson.
How Do You Solve This?
1. Consider a CRM system, even if it’s an archaic Excel spreadsheet.
There’s a sequence for your content marketing, there’s a sequence for your autoresponder, there should be a sequence for your current customer outreach.
That’s right, if someone bought the stuff, find out if they’re using the stuff. If they like the stuff. If they didn’t really need the stuff.
You might find out that they need more stuff.
2. Consider a “reverse funnel” approach to your client or customer management.
Once you funnel these people into your process, turn the funnel upside down and help them manage through the next thing. WHAT?
You’re funneling them out to new stuff. Maybe yours is a DIY tool that will allow them to expand their own skillset, so they in turn spread your knowledge to their circle. Maybe you give them more information after they’ve bought so there’s a value-added approach – now, they perceive the value as much greater than what they signed up for.
3. Pick up the phone.
I’m guilty of not doing this enough – I’m in the process of eating my own dog food on this one. The phone is your friend, and even if it’s just a 2 minute call to check in.
Don’t assume that your killer content will make your relationships real. Make them real yourself.