When we talk to businesses, we always do research beforehand and look at their website, their employees and look at the passive and active presence on social. You can get a great understanding of a business, it's purpose and culture just from looking at people's social profiles and their posts.
Why Don't Sales and Marketing People Understand Human Behaviour Today?
There is two fundamental problems with business today and a quick and easy way to solve it.
1. Humans form habits, and in sales and marketing we have formed a habit in the way we sell and market. These habits has been around since 1930, this is where the blueprint for today's sales and marketing was created. This blueprint is that "interrupt" a company and then "broadcast" a message. This is exactly how advertising, cold calling and email marketing works.
This shows we don't understand the way that humans think today. Nobody likes being interrupted and our phones give us access to an infinite amount of content, we are able to go online and research anything we want to buy. The old habits and behaviours of interrupt, don't fit the modern intellect of the modern world and modern person.
(And people justify 98% failure rates in advertising, email marketing and cold calling, because they are unable to break the habit and think about something different).
2. The number two problem with business today is that people go to market with a message that is "but my product because it's great".
The problem is nobody cares about your product. I know that you care, it pays your mortgage and pays for the food to put on the table. But nobody else cares. Why? Because I'm too busy selling my product, that puts food on the table and pays my mortgage. Why would I be interested on what pays your mortgage, it's difficult enough paying mine?
Using these two techniques demonstrate that as a salesperson and as a marketer we don't understand humans today and what motivates them. In fact using these techniques of "interrupt" and "broadcast" makes us look old fashioned and desperate.
But Tim It's All About Brand
No it's not. There is this narrative in Marketing (another habit) that it's all about brand and the problem is, it's not.
For 99% of companies they are unheard of, they have no brand and the business then spends (wastes) millions on creating a brand.
I was listening to the radio this morning and a company was advertising plastic guttering, the fact is, they don't have a brand and would have to spend millions creating one. In the current pandemic, they will probably run out of money before that brand is created.
Interrupt and Broadcast Does Not Build Trust
The problem is that "interrupt marketing and selling" does not build trust. The average person is bombarded with up to 10,000 brand messages a day. The problem for you is that you (regardless that you have the best photos, the best copy and you are using the best agency) are just one of those messages. You will note I don't recall who the guttering company is. People don't remember who your company is if you interrupt them and broadcast at them.
Interruption does not build trust and in the world of B2B sales are based on trust. It also does not get you remembered, another key strategy in B2B sales and marketing.
It's a road to nowhere.
Modern Marketing is Based on Waste, check out this diagram.
On the left is the traditional marketing approach. The marketing department spend millions of $s (hopefully) creating an environment where people recognize your brand, which is based on waste. Marketers create "white papers", place advertisements, create "thought leadership" all on the hope that somebody will like it and engage with it.
You want a pair of sneakers (trainers) then you buy Nike or Adidas. We all want to be in a position where, should you want to buy plastic guttering, (I've just picked a product at random). We all know, which brand of plastic guttering to buy, because they will have spent millions on creating a brand. But of course, none of us know a brand of plastic guttering. Unless you have researched the market (on social).
Another issue with Brand Marketing today is that it isn't differentiated. At my previous company we sold accounting software, we made it complicated for our clients by using our own made up jargon. We called accounting software, ERP software. We then marketed exactly the same as all our competition. With the usual message of "buy our product because it's great". We had the same unique selling points (USPs) (which didn't make them unique) and the same messages. If you look around, thousands if not millions of companies are doing the same. Go and look at your competition, they are saying the same as you.
Creating a brand this why is based on hope (which isn't a strategy) and waste (which isn't the way to market during a Pandemic and where cash is short).
In fact buyers today are looking for "trust", there is a term used in social media circles which is "know me, like me, trust me" and it is through social media, that you can move up this decision tree. Why? Because if I "know you, like you and trust you" then you are more likely to buy from me.
Recent insights from the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust in 2020 indicate:
"90 percent say that in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, people want brands to protect the wellbeing and safety of their employees and suppliers even if it means suffering big financial losses until the pandemic ends
70 percent say trusting a brand is more important today than in the past – a shared belief among age groups, gender and income
53 percent of respondents believe ‘whether you trust the company that owns the brand or brand that makes the product’ is the second most important factor when purchasing a new brand. Trust is second only to price (64 percent)"
So what should you do?
Empower Your Employees on Social Media
(Put Employees at the Center of Your Post-Pandemic Digital Strategy)
Why employees? Each of your employees are unique, they have a set of values, beliefs and experiences which are different from everybody else and your competition.
In the diagram on the right, the employee creates content, not in the mode of "buy my product because it's great", but in their own tone.
By creating authentic content, that is insightful, engaging and educational this is more likely to be read (and shared) by their network. This means that employees are about to spread their (so your) influence. Couple this with a programmatic plan to create employees so that have personal brands, or another way to put it, shop windows on social. Personal brands which show case, their skills, their beliefs and their personality. As well as a program to grow their networks, into the accounts you want to influence.
For example, say you want to sell to IBM, then if you are not connected to anybody in IBM the chance you will be able to influence that account is small. So how do you connect to people in IBM, so you can grow your influence in a non spammy way?
If your employees are connected to people in IBM (a target account for you) you will find IBM people finding your engaging and insightful content and sharing it.
I'm aware of a sales team in Microsoft who use this as a way to influence their $100 million sales in large accounts.
Isn't Employee Advocacy Just Pumping Out a "Buy My Product Because it's Great Message?"
For many companies it is. Which is why we, using research created this content pyramid.
We have tested this and we know that any brand message, will get little or no engagement.
(Of course, there are companies that get a VP to post and then all the reports then like that post. Isn't that engagement? No. Most people on Linkedin have little or no network, it is usually made up of x colleagues and recruitment consultants. Which means the people and companies you are trying to influence, won't see it. These companies also won't have a methodology on how to monetize that engagement. It could be called a "random act of social".)
Throwing content on any platform does not create trust, it does not create conversations. It is just a "random act of social".
So Where's The Case Studies Tim?
In this podcast "5 Things to Kick Start Your Employee Advocacy Program" with Danielle Guzman she explains how Mercer gets 4 times the business when they employer there employees vs when they just use the brand to sell. Now that is a business case!
This is where employees create authentic content, they share insight, they educate and they build influence on social media and in the accounts they want to build influence.
"Know me - like me - trust me - buy from me."
Where Do We Go From Here?
For those unsure of what to do, DLA Ignite will complete a review of your current social / digital / virtual / remote selling capability. For free.
We will take your team (up top 10) and perform a complete root and branch Social Media Performance Assessment. We look at bother your active and passive social behaviours and plot them against best practice.
Sales, Marketing, Management, Technical, HR. Procurement ....whoever you want to include.
We will map your business against the DLA Ignite baseline and present back to you our findings. We will show you where improvements can be made and what results should be expected. No hard sell, just present back to you a road map. As business leaders keep saying to us "we entered lock down analogue, this is your chance to leave this pandemic, digital." It's time to get ready for 2021!
n the Harvard Business Review, Ashley Goodall and Marcus Buckingham note: “In essence, we have treated organizations like increasingly complex machines in which the humans are but component parts and in which the solutions to any ills involve tweaking the system from the top — by addressing culture broadly — or by upgrading the individual components, the humans, themselves.”