I spotted an interesting observation/recommendation from Dianna Huff in her B2B Marcom Writer Blog, in a post entitled “Manufacturing Marketers Aren’t as Confident About New Tactics“.
Which brings me back to the original point of my CMI blog post: manufacturing marketers need to 1) develop content that helps drive the conversions that move prospects along the sales cycle versus building brand awareness and 2) …
I have been cultivating an idea for the past 2 years which I hope to implement with a potential new manufacturer client along these lines. Essentially, the manufacturer has an area on their site that describes the recent products they have made. Based on their tracking, they know it is a popular area for visitors, and they suppose it is because people like to see what others have built to get ideas for their own customizations.
Currently, when one clicks on a recently-built product, they get some of the main features of the specific product and choices made by that customer. I would say that the viewer has entered the sales cycle, albeit very preliminarily. However, currently, that’s it — the cycle for that viewer risks dead ending there. It is up to the viewer to collect and synthesize that information for his own customizations. It lets viewers leave the sales cycle without really connecting them to the next step.
This is a problem. You have a lot of people coming here starting along the sales cycle (research, etc.) and the manufacturer is not providing any continuity so it’s easy for those prospects to get derailed – since the manufacturer itself does not provide or connect the ‘rail’ to continue.
To provide such a rail, the manufacturer needs to provide a link between what was built (the product being reviewed) and a way for the prospect to begin customization of their own, based on that product feature selection. That would provide a connection between what was done and what the prospect is going to do in the future (the future product). This would allow the manufacturer to move the prospect along the sales cycle at a time the prospect is interested in that manufacturer, rather than force the prospect to make the leap by themselves.
Each stage of the sales cycle could be accompanied by content that helps explains decisions to be made at that point, letting prospects self-help themselves along. The key thing, though, is making sure the continuity exists.
Therefore, you can see why Dianna’s comments really struck home. To repeat, she recommends to “develop content that helps drive the conversions that move prospects along the sales cycle.” My take is that the “content” could be a tool I’ve described that provides an easy path along the product’s sales cycle.
After I presented the concept to the client, I was asked “how is this going to increase sales?”. My answer was that one can increase sales in at least two ways:
- Increase the number of people exposed to your products, and/or
- Decrease the number of prospects who leave your sales cycle before purchasing.
(so easy for consultants to say these things!)
My solution is based on the hypothesis that if you engage prospects better and ensure there is continuity from one step to the next, you should be able to increase sales. So manufacturer marketers need to ask themselves how easy is it for prospects to move themselves along the sales cycle, to identify gaps that could cause the prospect to derail.
Have I been too abstract, or does this resonate with you?