The secret sauce of successfully marketing your consulting services.
In the Business-to-Business (B2B) world, how we do business today has become extremely complex.
There are an increasing number of customer touch points across multiple communication channels and devices and numerous decision makers and stakeholders involved – making it difficult for you to reach out and interact directly with interested B2B buyers.
To address how to navigate these tough market conditions, businesses have been assessing the way that they interact with their target audience and the message that they’re communicating.
According to Simon Sinek they have been doing their marketing in the wrong order. They start with a “what they do” and then move to “how they do it” and neglect to mention “why they do what they do”.
As Simom Sinek puts it, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”
The idea of starting with “why” provides an opportunity to explain the underlying value of what you do as a consultant, to position how you stand out from the rest, what you bring that is beyond just a specific skill-set.
Defining your unique proposition
Research from Demand Gen B2B Buyers Survey Report 2016 found that the main sources of information that B2B buyers reference were taken primarily from their web search activities, corporate websites and insights from peers and work colleagues.
According to Google research, B2B buyers conduct an average of 12 searches before they engage with a specific vendor. That means there can be between 7 – 12 touch points with a prospective seller as they are nurtured into becoming a lead, according to research from Walker Sands.
With so many touch points now in the buying process the sales cycle has become longer and more complicated. Budgets are tighter, more vendor options to consider at home and abroad, more stakeholders and a risk averse culture all contribute to a challenging sales cycle that you need to tackle.
So, how do you stand out?
One of the main marketing objectives of your consulting proposition is to show how you demonstrate focus, understanding and authority in a particular segment.
That you understand the challenges faced by clients and are able to provide a solution that fits.
And, apart from your expertise what you bring as a person or a company to the gigs you work on. Why you work the way you do and the benefits and values that delivers.
Demonstrating you understand your customers
The B2B buyer community has adopted the “end consumers” or the B2C market mantra of checking everything out on the internet first before they buy anything.
It’s typical for a buyer to search first to self-diagnose their pain or challenge, in order to form an opinion on what problem they have and how they need to address it, learning from others.
An average B2B customer has probably completed more than half of their decision-making process prior to engaging in any direct contact with a supplier – and the majority of this journey has been done through online research.
Work done by DemandGen has shown that a website visitor is most influenced by content that provides “relevant content that speaks directly to [my] company.” It resonates because it shows you understand their problem and connects with their situation.
Content marketing is the key
The content that you create and distribute does need to be presented in context, so it will be valuable to show you understand the wider business landscape and how the consulting services your offer benefit a specific business or challenge.
Visitors to a website are searching for “hot buttons” that will flag up to them whether they are on the right website or not. You have three seconds from the moment a visitor lands on the site for them to make up their mind.
Visual stimulus i.e. videos are a great help to keep visitors interested in those first three seconds. We remember as much as 80% of what we see as opposed to only 10% of what we read.
Creating a marketing message
Your marketing message can be taken from how you position your consulting services and typically it is the single most compelling claim or most persuasive benefit that you have that solves a particular problem. This is your “promise”, that makes you stand out from your competitors.
When you start to communicate your marketing message, it will need to have an effective call-to-action that compels the audience to action. Below is a map on how to put all these moving parts together, with the problem you solve at the core and your most compelling claim at the top.
Source (John Kennedy)
So how do you bring it all together?
In today’s market, 67% of the buyers journey is now done digitally as buyers continually search for solutions. This makes reaching your B2B audience difficult, especially in an environment where you are not the only one trying to make some “noise” in the consulting market.
Your prospective buyers will filter out a lot of the advertising noise, and will search for those messages that resonate with their challenges.
So, when you get a conversation started with a prospective buyer, discuss their plans, goals and challenges. What options do they have, and what are the consequences if they fail?
Sell to your customers how they want to buy. It is an important step, but thinking about the decision-making process your buyers go through will help you develop a far more “buyer-centric” message strategy.
“Walk in your customers shoes” to be able to understand more about their perspective, and how you can add value – not just by selling but through adding value with information and advice to build a position of authority.
Finally learn how to recognise when prospective customers are open to engage and hear from you, and sell in the way that your customers are buying.
At Brainping we are always happy to provide advice, especially to fellow consultants who are either just starting out or need some help on how to move to the next stage.
Let us know if you need some advice, we are always happy to give you the benefit of our experience.
Contact us today.
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