Tuesday, November 01, 2022
Community-based marketing (CBM) is a relatively new ‘buzz’ for many businesses in the IT Channel, yet it’s been around for quite some time in various forms. But it has evolved.
Some may argue this is a topic that sits firmly in the remit of the marketing team and an initiative they should own and manage. However, the value it brings from reporting in-depth insights into buyer needs means it can also be used to inform sales conversations to optimise time and effectiveness.
Before brand loyalty, buyers play the field
Social media groups created by businesses on platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook are the way most perceive community channels. Connections made in these groups generate PR between brands and their broader audience beyond prospects and customers. They benefit single brands.
Whilst brand loyalty is a wonderful thing before audiences know they wish to be loyal, they play the field. Yet they want to make their mind up and are information hungry. Before contacting sales, they look for reliable sources of information (13 on average) that offer value-based content that addresses topics of personal interest in an impartial environment.
How communities offer insight into buyer intent
You know how it works - you click on something that piques your interest and an hour later you’re investigating a problem you didn’t know you had! Those clicks don’t mean you want to speak to or buy from anyone, but you’ve found a great source of information that you can trust and you’ll return to when you’ve looked into it further.
A good community offers great sales outcomes
From a sales point of view, the only point to any marketing activity is to boost customer
interactions, conversions, and sales. This view, of course, is correct.
But to get to that point, a community needs to offer an environment providing value and information beyond a product or service. It’s an opportunity to build brand and product awareness and trust amongst audiences who need to assimilate information on a broad number of topics.
Access to content when the time is right for them
An IT or Security buyer will be looking for a solution to fix a problem or will have read about a problem that’s starting to be a concern for them or their industry peers. This means a great deal of time online “self-serving” before they’re ready to engage in a 1:1 conversation. Giving them access to information when they need it and at their pace is far more likely to result in a good sales conversation than starting from cold.
There are some distinct stages buyers go through when assessing purchases for their businesses and it almost always requires the involvement of more than one persona - not least when it comes to committing to IT and Security purchases which have high-value and extensive licensing commitments. In short, you'll need to get many more stakeholders onside than just one or two people that like the look and feel of your solution.
Don’t leave them hanging!
When a potential buyer is ready to take the next step and ask for more information, it's vital to have the information ready and signposted for them to find out more. Once they’ve downloaded that whitepaper, the next piece of content needs to be available straight away, and presented in a personalised, engaging way.
These are the broad stages buying groups will explore as they approach the stage (engagement) when they want to speak with someone. The content provided needs to match these stages of requirement.
Build trust through impartiality in a collective brand community
One of the biggest bugbears buyers have is the minute they click on something they are going to be mercilessly pursued to book a meeting when they’re not yet ready to have a conversation.
This means community sites that allow them to visit can visit and become better-informed play a vital role in all the stages of information gathering and project scoping.
Key Benefits of community-based marketing and sales
The main two:
1. No more vanity MQLs based on clicks and opens. This approach is consigned to the 2010s where they belong and replaced by carefully executed campaign delivery that offers high-intent leads with all the necessary information to support why they’re ready
for sales engagement.
2. Sales folks are given superpowers. They’re armed with so much information about the engagement of individual buyers with high-intent markers, it would be difficult not to produce a good outcome.
What’s your next step?
Thank you for reading this far! Perhaps you’re reassuring yourself you have tons of content, a good number of followers on your social pages, a CRM and automation platform that informs salespeople when they need to make calls and an events calendar that’s finally going to kick properly back into gear in 2023.
Sure. But you’re still missing out on an ongoing nurturing programme that offers extra eyes on your content from an already engaged community of over 60,000 SMB and enterprise, IT and Security buying professionals.
If community-based marketing and sales feel like they should be on your agenda, then we’d love to show you how this could be a viable and productive programme in your 2023 calendar.
See some of our communities in action!
Get in touch and we’ll be happy to offer you a demo of how this translates to lead progression for your sales team.
☑️ Book it here, or request a callback.