It’s official: the flywheel is replacing the funnel. In HubSpot’s Ultimate Guide to Marketing Trends in 2018, number one on the list is the new way to look at the relationship between customers and organizations:
‘The marketing funnel is no more, my friends.
Today, the flywheel - and a subsequent focus on
service - have replaced the one-way direction of the funnel.’
This new model puts customers at the centre of the organization, with Marketing, Sales and Service revolving around them in a flywheel.
HubSpot has labelled this section of their report ‘Customers as Marketers’, referring to the fact that word-of-mouth marketing is the single most powerful marketing tactic.
We thought it was worth looking at this from a content perspective, to extend the principles of Sales Enablement to your customers, enabling them to become great advocates for your business!
So how can you fine tune your content strategy to better enable customers to be brand ambassadors?
1. Create shareable content
Sharing is caring! And if you want your customers to talk about your product/service, you need to make it easy for them. Create short, visually appealing content like videos, infographics, memes, lists, etc. that can be easily shared on social media. You want to build a positive emotional connection with your customer and their friends, which usually means creating something funny, relatable, inspiring or heart-warming. Maybe you’re sitting there thinking ‘but I sell printer ink, what’s inspiring about that?’ Well you need to rethink your marketing strategy because you’re not selling printer ink, you’re selling pictures, stories, homework, or whatever it is that people print these days. There’s always an emotional component to every product, you just have to find it. That’s what you put out on social media.
You know that feeling when you find something great online and you get to be the first person to share it in your network? That’s what you’re aiming for. Content people want to stick a flag in and claim as their own.
2. Sell problems, not products
When friends sell to friends, they don’t sell features, they sell benefits. Let’s take vacuum cleaners, as an example. If my friend walked into my house and said, ‘oh my goodness, I don’t know how you keep this place so clean when you have all these pets. My dog is making some kind of hair nest in my living room’, I wouldn’t say: ‘Well I have the VakRoom 3000. It has a 2800 hp motor and a special battery and all these filters.’ I’d probably say something like, ‘I just bought a new vacuum cleaner and it sucks up all the hair and stuff super fast. Because it runs on battery, I can just pop it out of the cupboard as soon as I see a mess without all the hassle of plugging it in or running the wire into the right room.’ I might even demo it right there and then.
The content you put out should reflect this same kind of ethos. Talk about problems rather than products. Connect to the emotional reasons they might make the purchase, which are almost always stronger than the practical reasons. Think about your own behaviour as a customer - what prompts you to share a good experience with your friends?
In B2B sales, there are often a number of people involved in a purchasing decision, so it’s also important to create content that speaks to each of these buying influences - the user influence, the financial influence, the technical influence, etc. This also gives something for potential customers to share amongst themselves, so if the person who is going to use the product is sold on the purchase, he or she can find content to help convince the person making the financial decision to go ahead.
3. Continue to delight your customers
One of the things HubSpot points out about the new customer-centric marketing model is the need for excellent customer service to delight and empower customers. This means continuing to provide content that helps your customer get the most from your product/service.
- Help your customers find additional uses or different ways to use your product with helpful ‘hacks’.
- Delve deeper into product functions with explainer or how-to videos to help your customer get the most out their purchase.
- Inspire customers with case studies from other users.
- Make yourself available for questions in webinars or live social media streams.
- Continue to get to know them. Don’t assume because the sale is made that discovery is over. Ask them what they’d like to hear from you.
- Create a community and invite everyone in. Whether there are financial incentives (and cross/up-selling opportunities!) or just the warm fuzzy feeling of being part of a group, creating a positive team environment will inspire your customers to invite others to join.
This is probably just the tip of the iceberg, but we hope you find some useful pointers here to start you off. And don’t forget that whatever content you create with customers in mind will very likely be equally applicable as Sales Enablement collateral.