Last month in this space I talked about a restaurant visit and my introduction to content marketing–the methodology of raising awareness of and confidence in your products and services by educating the consumer on what to look for and how to objectively value what you offer.
To demonstrate, think about shopping for a home loan. Let’s say you’re looking at the websites of four banks, and all of them are showing you their rates and letting you sign up. But you’re drawn to the information on the home page of one particular bank offering a “7-Point Guide to Shopping for a Home Loan.”
“Hey!” you think. “Here’s a resource I can use to help me better understand and plan through this process.”
This bank has demonstrated an interest not just in being a loan provider but also in ensuring you are knowledgeable and savvy as you shop around. More than the banks who didn’t have similar content on the topic, the helpful bank is positioning itself as a trusted authority on the topic and as an institution who cares enough about the customer to make the first move in establishing a relationship that may lead to a sale.
The free, downloadable guide is an example of an offer. To be more specific, it’s a top-of-the-funnel offer. Most websites only cater to bottom-of-the-funnel customers–those who are coming to the website willing to commit. Either through a sign-up button or a contact form–even a request-for-quote form–these websites assume the visitor is ready to buy.
What about the visitors who aren’t quite ready? Maybe they’re shopping around with other vendors or just starting to research the topic in general. The bigger the price point, the more the customer is going to want to educate themselves on how to shop, become acquainted with their options, and look for the best deal. The more you can provide tools and resources to help them through this process, the more you look like an honest broker.
Think of classic campaigns, all the way back to Macy’s Department Store in Miracle on 34th Street (“If we don’t have it, we’ll tell you who does”) or Progressive Insurance today (“Buy and compare car insurance–we’ll even show you the best deals from our competitors”). Gain trust by focusing on the needs of your customers above all.
As customers get closer to the point of making a purchase, they move from the top of the sales funnel (Awareness), through the middle (Evaluation), to the bottom (Purchase).
Awareness: During this stage, effective offers include whitepapers, ebooks, kits, tip sheets, checklists, how-to videos, and educational webinars. For example, Window World has a call-out on their homepage to a checklist offer titled “The Top 10 Things to Know Before Replacing Your Windows.”
Evaluation: You’ve got their attention, now offer a product webinar, case study, sample, FAQ, data sheet or demo video. The customer knows more about what they’re looking for, so your challenge at this stage is to help them learn more about your value specifically. This is an offer you will likely present directly to your top-of-the-funnel lead via email to see if they’re ready to go deeper. For example, “The 4-Year ROI: Download our newest case study, and see how a new window replacement repaid the investment in just over four years.”
Purchase: To get the customer across the finish line, dangle a free trial, live demo, consultation, estimate, or coupon. These tactics are far more familiar to most companies, for example, “Save 35% if you order by Saturday!”
Now that you’re getting some ideas for offers to develop for your ideal customers, we’ll talk next month about how to get leads in exchange for the offer–contact information you can use to nurture and nudge the relationship toward a transaction.
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