We are self-selecting buyers. Thanks to the huge amounts of information, opinions and data available online, we can research any type of purchase decision beforehand, and know whether or not it makes sense for us. This takes the ability of your brand to ‘sell’ me completely out of the equation.
Or does it? Last week I spoke at the Bank Operations and Management Summit in Birmingham. At one point I was discussing how to build blog readership with this room full of smart bankers. I asked them to think about the reasons why someone chooses not to bank with them. What are the top objections? Take these objections or questions that their current and potential customers have, and answer them in a blog post. When you address customer concerns and questions head on with your blog, you are re-inserting yourself into the sales cycle for that customer. Your content then becomes a selling tool for your brand. For example, if I don’t want to do business with your bank because I’ve heard that you charge too many checking fees, if you detail that you offer a ‘Zero Strings Attached’ checking account that charges no fees, that puts my concerns over fees at ease, and could win my business.
I do this as well with my own content. One of the areas that has confused companies for years about social media marketing is questions about pricing. Few companies had any idea what they should expect to pay for social media marketing services, so in 2010 I wrote a blog post detailing what companies could expect to pay for social media marketing services. It has been viewed over 30,000 times. In 2011 I updated the price list, which has now been viewed over 50,000 times, and which led to the biggest traffic day ever for my blog. The most recent update to this list came in 2012 with my post ‘How Much Does Social Media Cost Companies in 2012?‘. That post has currently been viewed almost 85,000 times, and is the most popular blog post I’ve ever written.
Another reason why it helps to address questions and concerns head-on is because it saves time for both you, and your customers. Around 2009 or so I started getting regular emails from companies saying they needed someone to analyze how they were using social media, and tell them if there was anything they needed to be doing that they weren’t. They’d ask if this was a service I provided, I’d explain that I did indeed offer a social media strategy audit for companies.
What I noticed after doing this a few times is that often, the company either wasn’t interested because they would realize they didn’t need an audit after talking to me, or they did, but didn’t have the budget at that time. But along the way, we’d likely have multiple emails and schedule phone calls, etc. Both myself and the company ended up investing a lot of time into trying to decide if we were right to work together, only to discover that it wasn’t a good fit.
To address this, I created a page here detailing my Social Media Strategy Audit. This page details exactly what is included in the audit, as well as the exact price. This way I am answering many of the questions that the potential client would have upfront. As a result, the majority of the emails I now get about my Social Media Strategy Audit are similar to “Hi Mack, I read about the Social Media Strategy Audit you offer on your site, I think this might be a good fit for our company. When can we talk to discuss the next steps?” And it also helps me even when the customer doesn’t see that page because I can offer it for them as information. A few weeks ago a company emailed me asking if I could do a social media strategy audit for them, and that they wanted to know when I could talk to them about it? I emailed them back and gave them some times I could chat with them in the coming week, but also gave them a link to my Social Media Strategy Audit page and explained to them that it would have all the information on the service, as well as the price. Within the hour the company emailed back and said they only had $500 to spend on an audit. By simply listing my price I saved both of us the time we would have wasted on the phone call.
So if you want to apply this same method to your own blog, make a list of the top objections that people have for doing business with you. And it doesn’t have to be your particular business, it could be for anyone that does your type of work. For example, I think we can all give you several reasons why we hate going to the dentist. If you’re a dentist, you could write blog posts that address each of these objections head on, which will put my mind at ease, and increase the chances of my doing business with you.
Plus the added bonus is that you are creating more valuable content for your blog’s readers! Which means more readers and more exposure for your business!
So the big question: If this works, why don’t more (blogging) businesses do this?
Because addressing your flaws (real or perceived) is viewed by many businesses as a sign of weakness. That’s why you rarely see businesses that are viewed to be ‘blue chip’ brands doing this. The few that do are typically lesser known businesses looking to make a name for themselves.
But the reality is that when you address the reasons why a customer might not do business with you, you are helping to build trust with them. Which means that the lesser known business is addressing the actual concerns of customers, so that makes it easier to trust them, and do business with them.
Which means one day that lesser known business will not only grow its customer base to reach yours, those customers will be more loyal to that business because they trust them.
The reality is that your competition is already doing this. They are focused on the reasons why customers would NOT want to do business with you. They are already focused on what they can offer that you cannot.
So figure out your flaws (even flaws that your customers perceive that don’t really exist) and the reasons why customers are reluctant to do business with you, and address them head-on. Answer their questions for them and solve their problems, and you will win their business!
Lee Traupel says
Very well done Blog post Mack and as we tweeted you, we love this headline too. Great being connected with you and your content is always meaningful. Cheers! Lee
Mack Collier says
Thanks Lee, appreciate your support will try to get the newsletter back on a weekly schedule soon! So many content channels, so little time 🙂
Ffion Llwyd-Jones says
Useful and actionable post – many thanks, Mack.
I’m writing a page this week to address some possible customer concerns. And I really like the idea of a potential client being able to pre-qualify themselves before we have those time-consuming emails and chats.
Mack Collier says
Thanks, it saves time for both you and your customers, and when they do contact you, they are likely either wanting to buy then, or need a last clarification on some information before they do buy. Win-win!
Mack, this is a great post and you are touching on a subject that I wish companies would take more seriously at a management: auditing and monitoring and the tools and people to assist.
While the free services are useful and are helping solopreneurs and small businesses increase performance, they are beginning to cause an issue for the mid-sized organizations with small budgets. I see a lot of management dismissing paid services and tools because there is “surely something free” that can help”.
One of the key elements being overlooked is the experience to align the tools with a strategy. There is no free service out there that does that. Only experience.
Great post and yes, I love Marcus’ and your approach of addressing pain points to win trust because it works.
Mack Collier says
Thank you, Paper.li is doing this with #BizHeroes where your members get first look at upcoming features so when they are rolled out to public, the Heroes can address complaints users might have ie ‘why did you change this?!?’ and show them why it works better!
Adam Dukes says
Great post, Mark! Obviously, pricing is a big concern with the stats you have provided. Addressing pain points is a great way to differentiate yourself as well. Not many want to talk about their “weaknesses”, but like you said, it’s a great way to build trust.
I took some of Marcus’ advice last summer and wrote a best social media company and listed 3 “competitors”. Two of them shared it with their networks.
Also, great blog chat the other night with the Sales Lion himself, Mr. Sheridan. I enjoyed the debated between you, him and Mr. Stratten.
Mack Collier says
Hey Adam thanks for reading and thanks for stopping by #Blogchat! Marcus brought the heat, as always! Glad his advice worked for you!