The hard sell is dead.
Consumers are officially fed up; they’re more desensitized to outbound marketing than ever before.
That’s why, in this day and age, sales is all about relationships.
The goal of today’s marketers is to court the consumer and give them the value they need to grant you the gift of their money, so much so that you’d have to squint really hard to see a shred of a sales pitch in their strategy.
Besides the jaded attitude of consumers as a result of being spammed with advertising everywhere and all the time, there are a few reasons for why you should be building a relationship founded on value with your prospects.
First of all, consumers have access to heaps of information with the explosion of the internet.
Either you can let them do their own research about you and form whatever opinion they will from it, or you can start off on the right foot and provide those people with all of the valuable information they need to truly get to know your brand and its mission.
It’s your choice, but I’d go with the latter if I were you.
Consider, too, the temperature of your leads.
Hands down, warm leads are better than cold ones, because they convert much better.
It’s less of a shot in the dark and more of a natural progression down the sales funnel, which makes warm leads more efficient as well. The way you draw in warm leads is through value, of course.
Providing value to your prospects also builds trust with your audience.
If people know they can rely on your expertise and that you’ll be there for their needs, you’re much more likely to cultivate a relationship with your peeps, not just a mere transaction.
Besides, giving free help to the people you hope will hire your services or buy your products looks, at least on the surface, quite selfless. It shows that your brand is truly there to help customers and non-customers alike first.
And if you’re a numbers person...
...these will hit the nail on the head for why providing value is a sound investment of your marketing time:
- The cost of 3 out of 4 Inbound Marketing channels is less than the cost of any outbound marketing channel. (Mashable)
- Inbound leads cost 61% less on average than outbound leads. (HubSpot)
- Inbound Marketing yields 3 times more leads per dollar than traditional methods. (Kapost)
- A whopping 84% of audiences age 25 to 34 have left a favorite website due to intrusive advertising. (Mashable)
So, practicing the inbound marketing strategy of providing value has a sound ROI.
Got it? Good.
Now let’s explore why exactly providing consumers with value works so well in the first place.
So, How Does Providing Value Work?
Humans are emotionally-driven beings.
Even the most logical types out there can’t help but decide (at least partially) with their hearts, because our gut feeling is how we ultimately make choices in life.
Hence, naturally, brands should strive to provide value to their prospects with every interaction so that, when it comes time to make a purchase, it boils down to how they feel about your brand compared to others.
There are certain feelings you want to evoke from the offerings you give your prospects.
These feelings include:
- Belongingness to a tribe
- Being considered uniquely important
- Mutual respect
- Accomplishment and empowerment of conquering conundrums
So, how do we get prospects to feel this way about our brand?
It takes time and work, but it’s not rocket science.
How to Provide Value Instead of Just Selling
Let’s clear something up before we break this whole thing wide open: what is value, anyway?
There is no exact answer because value varies. It’s different per person because every human chooses what is most valuable to them individually.
Yes, this makes the equation more complex because you need to identify the unique values of your audience by grouping the similarities, not just assuming the same values all across the board.
If your brand is focusing on delivering the best product or service and customer experience that it can, chances are you’re not focusing on just one single selling point.
Generally, consumers value:
- An improvement on their life that makes it easier or more enjoyable
- Saving resources: time, money, labor, etc.
- Solving their problems and the empowerment of doing it themselves
- When you give them exactly what they want out of the B2C relationship
So how do you deliver?
Providing value really breaks down into two categories: giving and listening.
You need to give educational takeaways to your prospects—think of it as an intangible goody bag they get for attending your virtual party.
Educational takeaways are the goody bag your guests receive for attending your virtual party. #inboundmarketing #leadgen
Author Matt White wrote a book titled Stop Selling. Start Helping.
So, are you helping your target audience? Do you know what pain points your potential customers have? Have you shown them how you can help solve those by flexing your expertise muscles?
There are a few formats that are easily digestible, attention-retaining, and valuable that you can create for that very reason:
A great place to curate your advice, expertise, and other helpful bits of information for prospects to browse and self-diagnose.
Also, blogs help drive traffic to your website - where the conversion magic happens once they’re convinced of your brand’s value.
Special offers, loyalty/engagement rewards
Just like your brand is grateful to those who support you, make your customers grateful for supporting you by giving them a gift.
If you’re choosing between two coffee shops to visit, and one sends you a “thank you for being a customer” discount, which would you go purchase your cup of joe from?
Free takeaway items: webinars, ebooks, whitepapers
Not only do these items give prospects a good preview of your brand’s products or services, it also gives them a chance to weigh the pros and cons of an investment before putting any money down.
That way, the risk is lowered and your credibility is raised.
These freebies provide actionable takeaways for your prospects that help them improve whatever needs improving; it’s like a free trial of working with you that highlights the benefits!
The beauty of giving the gift of solutions is that there are always more problems to be solved - and that’s where you shine.
Therefore, my recommended strategy for converting those promising and engaged leads is to lead with a gift, then follow up with your brand’s paid solution once your credibility is established.
Sounds much more effective than cold calling, don’t you think?
Now, there’s a bit more to providing value than just giving away free stuff, because how do you know what free stuff is good stuff in your prospects’ minds?
Because mind reading is not real (and unethical, if it were existent), we’re going to take a more practical approach.
Counterintuitively, value has nothing to do with you; it has everything to do with your customers.
What I mean is: what you treat as valuable is what your customers consider valuable to them.
As a marketer, what you treat as valuable is what your customers consider valuable to them. #inboundmarketing #leadgen
Always consider everything from the customer perspective, from why you wrote on this certain topic for your blog to why you shared that infographic about newsletter ROI.
It must resonate with them and their predicament that they are trying to solve; otherwise, why should they care to stick around?
The best way to truly understand your audience is to conduct thorough customer research.
Identify your key customer types by creating buyer personas so that, with whatever you create for your audience, you speak directly and with more focus to a specific type of person rather than vaguely to the masses.
Your audience will appreciate a personal touch and engage more when treated as special.
To take the personal element even further, engage with your audience on social media: respond to questions, comment on prospects’ content that you like, and above all, listen!
Places like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, and more are great for identifying pain points of your target audience.
Take what you’ve found, create useful and educational content that helps solve the issue, share on social media, and voila - you’re helping the community.
Finally, continually improving customer satisfaction in general will help identify what works, areas of improvement, and what’s completely missing that would help convert more leads.
Don’t know what’s missing in terms of customer experience?
Ask the people who engage with you to give honest advice on how to improve their experience with your brand - they’d know best!
Be responsive and continually improve the customer experience with every useful bit of feedback you receive, and prospects will appreciate the effort.
The Bottom Line
We’re living in the era of inbound marketing, with sophisticated consumer preferences and increased accountability from brands to deliver helpful, engaging, and authentic experiences to their customers.
That’s why you have to stop selling, and start helping, or risk suffering the consequences.
I hope this article helped highlight the main ways in which your brand can provide value to your ideal customers and grow your business’ success as a result.
Do you have any other tips or strategies? Please share with us in the comments!