If I defined my relationship by the transactions I have with my husband on a daily basis, I think I might be in trouble. During the week, our interactions are often boiled down to the essentials — what we need to discuss to survive the week. The business transactions, as I and most of my friends call them. A relationship will not thrive on business transactions alone. I know, you’ve tried. (Begrudgingly, I have too.) It might survive on some slightly functional, efficient yet disconnected, subpar kind of way, but thrive it will not. This is NOT the level of engagement to which I’m referring.
In personal and professional worlds, I want you to REALLY engage — with your buyer, your prospect, your audience. This requires dialogue that goes way beyond the basics. It requires a range of emotions and multiple levels of thinking and listening and doing. This post will touch on the key strategic focus areas for achieving engagement and how you can connect engagement to marketing automation best practices.
But before we get there, a word on trust. Relationships must be built on trust. Full. Stop. Demand Spring predicts:
Customers will put their money where their trust is.
We’ve been thinking a lot about this. And here’s the framework we’re playing with to build trust. It’s not complicated. It’s simple, somewhat intuitive and focused.
This involves embracing the following three focus areas:
1. Know your audience well.
Buyer Persona Research builds the foundation of who you want your known audience to be. It unearths the basics, and dare I say generalizations, of what makes your buyer tick. It’s great to go even deeper than persona work if you can, (i.e. What jobs does your buyer need to do?) But persona work is a good start. If you want to learn more about Buyer Journey work, feel free to download our springboard here.
2. Be relevant. Move away from a selling approach to an engagement approach.
This is a tough one for many organizations. Selling is where we come from, it’s what we know. It’s our go-to approach. It’s all about us. BUT to really break the ice today, we are going to need to provide much more context for our audience on why we think we can solve their challenges, help them out of a jam, give them a stronger future. In other words, we need to be relevant. We need to stop selling our products and start to sell our companies, our visions, our philosophies and ways of doing what we do. Products come and go, and especially if you are in the world of tech, they change about every five minutes. Build relationships on why you do what you do. Communicate that consistently. Your products and widgets are a natural answer to your why. And the bonus with a non-sales approach is that you create more opportunities for your audience to engage. This sums it up nicely:
The future of content, in my opinion, is all about creating context. We are bombarded with so much information from so many channels every single day, that people crave editorial that can actually help them make sense of everything. We get so much of our “content” in these little bursts now — be it an email, a tweet, a blog post. But it’s always this little bite-sized, isolated bit of information. We rarely understand how it actually fits into our lives.
3. Create good content.
We’ll keep this high level. I’ll share a quick tip to help you evaluate your approach to content. If you want to go deeper, here’s a post on how to connect content and marketing campaigns.
The biggest content gap I see within organizations is that they are not set up to create content consistently or effectively. This is a big challenge. The idea of a thriving, collaborative content team is more an anomaly than a reality. But content is being created:
More than half (53%) of businesses spend time and money on content marketing, a number that is continuously growing. – recent state of content marketing study by Hubspot – Source
So the tip: My advice is to stop creating random acts of content. Slow down when you can. And speed up where it makes sense.
Slow down when it comes to creating your hero pieces. Create pieces that make sense for a lot of different reasons and that support multiple campaign efforts. Be thinking upfront how you can atomize these pieces and re-use them in a variety of execution and promotion plans. (Ann Handley has a great post on the broader sense of slowing down.)
Speed up when it comes to engaging where your audience is playing, learning, living. Have a strategy so you can be quick to evaluate and to act on channels and in conversations where your audience is active and listening.
So how do these ideas translate into action? How do they connect to marketing automation? Here’s a maturity model we created that outlines a walk-to-run approach on how to get smart about using technology and marketing automation to better engage.
Get the full springboard here.
At Demand Spring we bring this holistic view to every engagement we entertain. If there is more you want to explore here, reach out. We are always happy to have a conversation.
At the end of the day, I wish for better conversations, relationships, engagement for all of us. We are much too busy and our time much too valuable to live a life full of business transactions.