By: Steve Robins
Rather than pushing product, solution marketing is all about solving customer problems. And to do that, you need to share INFORMATION and engage in a two-way dialog with those customers to demonstrate how you can solve their problems. In most cases, you’re going to need to do that on the customer’s terms, not yours. So you’ll need to follow a key tenet of solution marketing: “Go where the prospects are.”
Where are those prospects? Only those most interested in your solutions and products are milling about your website, searching for your products by name, or attending your webinars and company events. Judging by trade show attendance, they’re not at trade shows either. It’s more likely that they’re reading targeted online and print publications, blogs and analyst reports. And they’re probably searching, browsing and reading or watching social media sites like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, to name only a few.
Go plant stuff. Hmmm… so if you want to go where the prospects are, you probably need start doing more with targeted pubs, analysts and social media. Rather than pushing information to prospects based on your schedule, you need to plant information (think “planting flowers”) in the places where prospects will find it when they’re ready to begin to engage in a two-way dialog with you. In a way, it’s also like planting listening devices because you’re likely to hear a lot more too.
SEO? You may be thinking that this is just about SEO (search-engine optimization). It is – and it isn’t. According to Wikipedia,
SEO is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.
But there’s more. Yes, prospects should be able to find your company website. But they should also be able to find – or even “stumble upon” your content in the places where they “live.” That means they should be able to find your content or mentions of your company in:
- Online or print websites they frequent
- Analyst reports
- Blog posts
- YouTube videos
- Twitter posts
- …and other social media
Social media = new options. Traditionally, you could either advertise or user PR and analyst relations to get picked up in publications or analyst reports. But with social media, you can also post your content on the Internet – and be found. In addition to a datasheet on your website, you can post a YouTube video explaining the product, you can brief bloggers in order to get the solution picked up in blog posts that prospects read. You can start a Facebook fan group where people can learn more.
Tune up. Remember, you’ll need to tune your content so that it’s appropriate to each individual medium. For example, you might present a 30-minute webinar on your company website but on YouTube, you’ll need to distill your message to five minutes, and possibly add entertainment in order to capture interest.
Engage in dialog. Social media is active media where prospects can engage in a dialog with you and others – providing honest feedback, asking questions, sharing information. Since it’s a dialog, you’ll need to be prepared to do more than just plant – you’ll need to participate in the dialog as well. That means responding to questions, answering criticisms where appropriate and more. The best part: you’ll be building a shared conversation – and a relationship in which prospects are engaged with your solution.
There’s more to the INFORMATION component of solution marketing, but lesson one is “go where the prospects are.”