By Dana Drissel
Getting prospects to REALLY understand your complex B2B offering, and why your solutions are better than the competition, are two of the most difficult things for a marketer to achieve. Many of us fail at successfully communicating our differentiation and inevitably lose business because prospects ‘just don’t get it’. So why are marketers creating more product sell sheets (boring) or videos (impersonal) that clearly aren’t helping their companies distinguish themselves?
Being risk averse and doing more of the same won’t change how prospects perceive our business. Statistics have shown that product knowledge retention increases from 20% to 75% when prospects are able to ‘drive’ their own interactive sales engagement. Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. Prospects want more control over their individual experiences, allowing them to influence or become more involved in the buying process.
In fact, Forrester reports show that on average prospects progress through 57% of the buying cycle without engaging a sales representative. What does this mean? It means that their decision is already 57% influenced before they’re even speaking with someone on your team. That’s why the marketing content/applications that we’re creating need to be more effective, accessible (cross-platform) and more engaging.
Customer Experience Management, a study published by the Aberdeen Group, fully investigated the benefits of better engagement with clients and prospects, and the resulting impact on customer acquisition, satisfaction and retention. Prospects who were involved in interactive marketing were not only able to provide valuable insight into their needs and purchasing behavior, but they also were likely to be converted into customers. This occurs because sellers can demonstrate products and provide information or offers that are more relevant to prospects’ individual needs. Even existing customers were more likely to be satisfied and loyal when they were involved in customer-centric experiences, with 28% of respondents citing improved cross-sell and up-sell activities as the most crucial benefit of customer engagement activities.
Engagement marketing allows customers and prospects to participate in the process of building a brand’s image, thanks to the customer’s ability to ‘interrupt’ a brand’s communications, to complement or modify its messages to fit his or her perspective. This removes the feeling of a canned, one-size-fits-all pitch or advertisement which can distance or even alienate prospects by making them feel undervalued; as if they are just another mass marketing target. Whether it’s through interacting with a virtual 3D product model on an tablet or a conversation on Twitter, it is the individual involvement aspect of engagement marketing that captivates users and makes it far more likely that they will remember relevant information. Engagement requires four key elements:
Immersion: Delving deeper into a comprehensive product or solution story via supplementary context and sensory experiences.
Interactivity: Allowing consumers to become part of the narrative, and influence the outcome.
Integration: Having a seamless content connection among all customer touch-points on all hardware platforms (tablets, laptop, website, smartphones, touch-screen appliances) and at all venues (trade show, sales meeting, briefing center)
Impact: Inspiring consumers to take action (schedule a meeting, purchase a product, share product content with a colleague, request a quote, etc.
Prospect engagement is clearly valuable for businesses, so be sure that you don’t limit this successful marketing practice with undeniable results to just online experiences! Use interactive applications that offer engagement both online and offline, redefining the reach that interactive marketing can have.
By incorporating sensory, emotional and intellectual components into telling your story, and making these engaging experiences universally available in every sales and marketing environment, you’re creating ‘aha’ moments where prospects can clearly visualize and understand how your solutions can solve their specific business challenges. All of these components, when incorporated together, lead to increased revenue growth through…
- Faster communication of unique value propositions and competitive differentiation;
- Proven product knowledge retention and emotional brand connection;
- Increased global reach with universal cross-platform accessibility, and
- Non-linear narratives that allow for greater up-sell and cross-sell potential.
When prospects become engaged and ‘just get it’ you know you’ve been successful in differentiating your solutions and accelerating sales opportunities. It’s time to transform your marketing with a revenue-relevant customer engagement strategy by giving prospects an experience they won’t forget.
Dana Drissel is senior marketing director at Kaon Interactive.