Can you really sell to a stranger?

by Sarah Wooltorton
March 21, 2012

Tips to build trust via social networking

Consumer behaviour has changed, we all know that. People no longer rely on billboards, radio, TV and cold calling to learn about new products and services. They just do their research via the web. But has this changed how you market?

Have you thought about the fact that…

  • People don’t trust advertising. 78% of buyers trust recommendations online and only 14% trust advertisements. But that’s just statistics. Surely common sense tells us this anyway?
  • People don’t want to view advertisements. People mostly tune out when it comes to advertising, unless it’s relevant to them at that exact moment, which for B2B is scarce. 86% of people skip through television commercials. Who knows what the figure is for cold calling.

Welcome inbound marketing – or prospects coming to you…

Old style marketers are unfortunately still relying on outbound marketing – cold calling, print advertisements, banner ads, radio, TV.

But did you know the grass is greener on the other side?

  • Inbound marketing focuses on earning attention and engaging with potential clients – the way it’s supposed to be.
  • It educates, adds value and creates a relationship.
  • And it’s actually more cost effective for generating leads!

But do people buy B2B online?

A common question…but professionals and business managers still do their research online. Probably more than any other target group. You just need to design a process that gathers, engages and sells to them over time.

  1. Define
  2. Reach out
  3. Gather
  4. Engage
  5. Stay in touch
  6. Take it offline
  7. Measurable results

So how do you gain attention from a stranger?

Effective B2B marketing is not about screaming at everyone and anyone who will listen. It’s about being found when the right person is looking for you, and in the places they are looking. And it’s about developing a relationship when they get there.

Let us give you an example…

A client of ours does large-scale IT deployment, such as rolling out the 50,000 PCs across NSW schools.

  1. Define: Their prime prospect is the CIO, the Chief Information Officer. So we designed a LinkedIn Group which would allow them to gather the CIOs across Australia and New Zealand and engage with them over time.
  2. Reach out: We wrote a White Paper which encapsulated the key concerns of CIOs – how to manage large-scale projects. So far we’ve circulated it to CIOs in our Group and also to other Groups.
  3. Gather: Over 200 targeted downloads and growing. We’ve migrated the “hand-raisers” from LinkedIn over to our client’s CRM.
  4. Engage: We’re publishing discussions regularly via CIO Groups and writing a monthly newsletter to the ones that download papers and read the blog.
  5. Stay in touch: We are sending a regular monthly Newsletter.
  6. Take it offline: Once we hit critical mass in terms of downloads, there will be an event planned for 50-100 CIOs and guest speakers from global IT companies.
  7. Measurable results: So far we’re tracking responses, traffic, downloads, direct contact and meeting requests. The downloads are steadily moving up the sales funnel from what we can see.

So: Gather, Engage, Sell.

Then they are no longer strangers.

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One thought on “Can you really sell to a stranger?

  1. Matt Rule - Marketing & Business Strategy Consultant :

    Love how you’ve defined marketing B2B in this article. The simplicity with which you’ve articulated something quite complex is a breath of fresh air! Thanks for sharing, I look forward to more of your articles/posts.

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