Most sales and marketing strategies I encounter focus on one key principle: Sell to prospects who are ready to buy now, otherwise you’re wasting your time. And this makes sense from a sales and marketing point of view. You need to show ROI from your efforts, and bringing in new customers is the ultimate marketing KPI. But focusing solely on these hot-to-trot prospects leaves a massive opportunity on the table.
Focusing on the 3%
In his best-selling book “The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies“, sales maven Chet Holmes reveals research that only 3% of your customers are in the market to buy your products at any given time. These 3% are the focus of nearly every sales and marketing campaign in your industry, making them extremely expensive to bring on as clients. Think of it as an auction: when everyone is bidding on the same stuff, the price continues to increase dramatically.
So what buying stage does the other 97% of your target market fall into?
The Demand Generation Pyramid
Below the 3%, the rest of your customers fall into four distinct phases of the buying cycle:
- 7% are open to buying your product, but not actively pursuing it
- 30% are neutral, meaning they haven’t even thought about your products (but may be interested)
- 30% think they are satisfied with their existing solution (but not completely unreachable)
- 30% are completely uninterested in your product or service (good luck, Chuck)
When you look at your target market in this light, it should change the way that you think about long-term marketing and sales. The top 10% will feed your short-term revenues, as they are the most receptive to buying right now. These people can be reached with more traditional marketing, as long as it is unique, benefit driven and delivered in the appropriate context.
The bottom 90% is the portion of your customer base that need to be nurtured over the long haul. They won’t respond to your traditional advertisements and marketing messages. Instead, you need to give them value. You need to develop a relationship that encourages them get to know, like and trust your brand. By building this relationships with the 90% now, you will become the first company they think of when they bubble up into the 10% – be it days, months, or years from now.
Delivering Value with Content Marketing
One of the most effective ways to engage your entire target market is through the use of content marketing. This concept gets a lot of play in online marketing circles, but it can be applied offline as well. In fact, content can (and should) be a part of all of your pre and post-sale communication with buyers.
When creating your content marketing strategy, the best practice is to follow the well known 80/20 rule. This rule states that 20% of your content should be blatantly self promotional. The other 80% should be useful, interesting, and benefit driven information that supports your brand.
For example, let’s pretend you’re a real estate agent that focuses on first-time home buyers and young parents. Your self promotional content can be a Facebook post with pictures of one of your newest listings that encourages interested buyers to call you for a tour. This will pique the interest of the 3%, and sometimes the 7%, but rarely will it make any impact on the 90%. Instead, you can engage this group by writing a blog post reviewing the best daycare centers in the area, or send out a checklist of all the steps a young couple needs to take 6-12 months before buying a home.
This content still positions you as an authority in your field, but never comes off as “too salesy.”
By creating and sharing useful, engaging content with your prospects, you achieve benefits throughout many of the buying phases:
- The 3% see that you deliver the most value for their needs, pushing them to buy
- The 7% begin to feel the need to buy (and can be pushed over the edge with some urgency)
- The 90% see you as a useful source of information, and begin to know, like and trust your brand
Content Marketing Resources
If you are just getting started with content marketing, it can be an overwhelming process. Luckily, I’ve compiled a few resources to help you self-educate and start planning. Here’s a list of my favorites:
- CopyBlogger: Join their free academy, it is amazing.
- Content Marketing Institute: An online magazine with an excellent email newsletter.
- HubSpot: The best content-driven marketing automation software.
If you don’t have the time, resources or patience to run a content marketing program on your own, you can always contact Red Bamboo Marketing for a free consultation. We provide best-in-class content marketing strategies and training to help your business grow.