By Alan E. Young
I have a question for you. How do you get leads in this new economy?
“A story is at its best when it’s not intrusive, when it brings value to a platform’s consumers, and when it fits in as a natural step along the customer’s path to making a purchase,” explains Gary Vaynerchuk, in his bestselling book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. The overall takeaway of the book is that companies have to continually give value to their audience before asking them to buy their products and services.
And so, the better question is this: how do we get there in the first place? Before anything else, shouldn’t we be considering those expectations which relate to the sales process in the early stages of lead generation? Do you know how your target market wants to be sold to? And, if you’re not getting leads, why is that? Better yet, how can you change that?
Selling is an art. Sure, you must deliver exceptional products and services that can stack up against the competition – but a great product doesn’t always sell itself, especially in the expectation-driven world of hospitality. That is why successful lead generation requires a more holistic approach.
A Better Way to Generate Leads
Consider this: 66% of entrepreneurs spend day after day worrying about how they’ll attract enough leads to remain profitable. Not only that but by the fifth year of operation, half of all small businesses fail. Why is this?
More often than not, lack of lead generation can be traced back to a broken sales process created by a faulty approach to content and vendor-customer relations. Business owners are simply unable to move beyond the traditional sales funnel and look beyond the immediate ROI of their sales efforts.
And yet, this in itself is a misconception.
The Real Measure of ROI
Do content and thought leadership content provide a favorable ROI? Certainly. It just can’t be measured in the same manner as other tangible business metrics.
Instead, thought leadership content puts brands in a position to build and maintain relationships with customers, relationships which are founded in trust and credibility before any sales pitch is delivered. In fact, it’s thought leadership content that places your brand at the forefront of consideration within the path to purchase. Today’s buyers, after all, are highly informed. They have the tools to do their own research, utilizing resources and public opinion to learn a great deal about a product or service, long before they make the decision to buy.
In fact, soft-selling works. Forty-five percent of buyers view at least three to five pieces of content before they contact a sales representative. And companies that blog have 434 percent more indexed pages than businesses without blogs, leading to better SEO.
Fortunately, with consistent and deliberate thought leadership strategy, the sales pitch might not even be necessary. By the time they are ready to purchase, they’ve already identified your brand as a leader in the space.
Influencing and Attracting Decision-Makers
A 2020 report revealed that 59 percent of decision-makers agree that an organization’s thought leadership is a more trustworthy basis for assessing its capabilities and competencies than its marketing materials and product sheets. Sixty-nine percent of decision-makers agree reading thought leadership is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of an organization’s thinking, and 89 percent say thought leadership had enhanced their perceptions of an organization.
On top of that, 42 percent of decision-makers agree they are more willing to pay a premium to work with an organization that produces thought leadership versus those that do not and 61 percent who are willing to pay a premium say it’s because thought leadership demonstrates deep thinking and other virtues important to them.
A Direct Impact on Sales
The same report cited the direct impact on sales. Decision-makers agreed that after they have engaged with a piece of thought leadership:
- They invited the organization (which was not in their original consideration set) to bid on a project
- They awarded business to the organization responsible
- They decided to increase the amount of business they did with the organization
- They purchased a new product or service from the organization that they had not previously considered buying
Types of Content that Works
Of course, thought leadership content could be presented in many ways, whether it’s in the form of articles, research reports, blogs, checklists, guides, infographics, videos, webinars, podcasts, or ebooks – both gated and ungated. It also includes campaigns and press releases to promote the content as well as paid placement to maximize visibility.
So, ask yourself the following:
- Are you utilizing thought leadership content to establish yourself or your brand as an industry expert?
- Are you providing value to engage your potential customers?
- Are you promoting your content via multiple channels, paid, organic, and owned?
- Are you leveraging press releases to highlight great content and company-defining news?
Alternatively, are you merely trying to sell, utilizing the same, tired sales pitch and product sheet time and time again? And are you, perhaps, asking for too much without first building trust with your prospects?
Because the B2B sales process can be longer and more complex than B2C, thought leadership content warms up the actual sales cycle rather than closes the deal. Most prospects want to have actual conversations with a salesperson to understand what they might be investing in and how it can benefit their business.
The value you offer through the content you share provides an integral context to your core offering. It’s a process and a position that can’t be rushed or falsified, but when done correctly, it can truly transform your lead generation potential and, in turn, your brand’s bottom line. In order to remain faithful to this purpose, ensure you work with industry experts who are aligned and well-versed in your ideas, specific subject matter, and industry.
Not sure where to begin? We can help. Click here to download the free guide, Thought Leader. Market Leader