Useful Information Should Take Priority Over Selling

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It’s time to take the focus off of selling. Instead, be a go-to resource and help prospective customers make an informed decision.

As conditioned as sales teams and marketers are when it comes to extolling their products, there’s a more effective strategy to win over prospects. It turns out that understanding your customers’ needs—paired with a sincere desire to serve those needs—works better than talking endlessly about the amazing features of your incredible products. Go figure.

In her article on Small Business Computing, Janine Popick, CEO at VerticalResponse, talks about takeaways her content marketing team brought back from the New Media Expo in Las Vegas. One speaker, Jay Baer, advocates providing useful content on your website so that current and future customers view your business as a trusted, indispensable resource.

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Instead of a whatever-it-takes approach to make the sale, apply that whatever-it-takes attitude to genuinely helping your customers. The first step is to discover what your customers need. Once you do, you can create subject-specific content that addresses those needs. You’ll go further by providing help instead of pushing for a sale. When they’re ready to buy, people tend to buy from businesses they know and trust.

If you want to know what your current and potential customers need, study what they search for when they come to your website. A good analytics program, like Google Analytics, can help you understand what they’re looking for, what challenges they face and how to help serve them better.

Once you know what people are looking for, it’s time to create content that helps answer their questions. If they wonder how select a type of email service provider, for example, Popick recommends providing the information to make a sound decision. “You could create a variety of content that addresses features to look for in an ESP—write a series of blog posts, create a video on YouTube, make an infographic, produce a podcast, conduct a webinar and/or TweetChat about it.”

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Finally, you need to be persistent. Serving your customers and providing them with useful information isn’t a one-time deal. Their needs change, along with technology and trends. Pay attention to what changes are on the horizon so that you can have the information ready for them when they need it. Build your reputation as a trusted, useful resource and you’ll be who your customers turn to when it’s time to buy. An additional—and by no means small—benefit is that people will find you in search engines when looking for answers.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of Small Business Computing. Follow Lauren on Twitter.

Adapted from Providing Useful Content Trumps Selling, by Janine Popick at Small Business Computing. Follow Small Business Computing on Twitter.