Are you still selling like it’s 1992?

Business development 1990s style

It’s the early 1990s. Britain is run by banker John Major and Clinton clutches victory in the US. Smokers get the Nicotine patch, Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit and Batman Returns.

In the world of business development the web has not yet landed. It’s advertising that wears the crown, with telemarketing the new kid on the block.

Looking back, selling and marketing may have seemed simpler then. A few well placed adverts, a brochure, a sales team, some canny networking and you were away. You held all the cards: if people wanted to know more you could drop a brochure in the post, and have one of your sales team follow up with a call next week.

The Internet has changed the game

Fast forward to 2012 and much has changed. Today your buyer’s first port of call is undoubtedly the Internet. He’ll search for answers using Google, ask his friends and online social networks for recommendations and visit a few websites to assess his options. He is checking to see who he can best trust to solve his problem, and he now has access to all the information he needs to do just that. The Internet puts your customers and prospects firmly in control.

Thanks to the Internet we now have access to information like never before. The web has empowered us so we can make up our own minds. We’ll find you when we want you; we want to choose you: we don’t want to be sold to.

1990s selling hits all the wrong notes in 2012

Things are different now. Strong-arm techniques hit the wrong note these days. Your audience won’t accept the old-style hard sell. Cynicism is epidemic.

Just provide us with good information and we’ll do what makes best sense to us, that’s the new buyer reality. Don’t try and manipulate us into buying. Focus instead on improving our lot.

These are really exciting times for those who align their sales and marketing approach with the new expectations of customers and clients. In a world with little trust, where information is at our fingertips, where Google is the place we turn to for answers, where social media is trusted more than traditional media, valuable content is the type of marketing that we seek.

We get bombarded with dull, uninspiring sales messages all day and see them as an intrusion, rather than something of value. Of course, for that tiny minority of small businesses who DO produce marketing, which people genuinely value and would miss if it were to stop, the sky is the limit!

Jim Connolly, Jim’s Marketing Blog @jimconnolly

Focus your marketing on providing valuable content

Educate or entertain your buyers, show them best practice, tell them what to look out for, give them valuable tips on how to achieve success, demonstrate how you have helped others in their shoes. Answer their questions and solve their problems, open their eyes.

Creating and distributing this kind of relevant and valuable content will help you turn prospects into buyers and buyers into long-term fans.

If you are still selling like it’s 1992, isn’t it time to change the way you sell?

You can find out more about this new approach to marketing in our book: Valuable Content Marketing – how to make quality content the key to your business success.

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