Selling in the Information Age: Why Most Companies are Falling Short
If one looks up the phrase ‘Information Age’ in Wikipedia, this is what they’ll find:
The Information Age, also commonly known as the Computer Age or Information Era, is an idea that the current age will be characterized by the ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and to have instant access to knowledge that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously. The idea is linked to the concept of a Digital Age or Digital Revolution, and carries the ramifications of a shift from traditional industry that the Industrial Revolution brought through industrialization, to an economy based around the manipulation of information. The period is generally said to have begun in the latter half of the 20th century, though the particular date varies.
So, in case anyone missed it, we are now in the INFORMATION AGE. And unless we can be manipulators of information, we’re going to be left behind. But apparently, many businesses and sales professionals across the world have not embraced the mindset and mentality of your typically 21st century shopper.
Gone are the days of the ‘yellow pages’ being the ultimate lead source for a company. Gone are the days of consumers only shopping at essentially the same brick and mortar stores month in and month out. Yep, today’s consumer has everything they possibly need to purchase a product at their fingertips.
Of the many mistakes I’ve made being a small business owner, one of the worst was my terrible marketing methods early on with my company. I would call the method that my 2 business partners and I used was ‘shotgun marketing’. You name it, we tried it. Newspaper, TV, magazines, radio, flyers, direct mail, the list goes on and on. We had neither rhyme nor reason; we were just trying to get our name out. And boy did we spend, or better said ‘waste’, some serious money.
But luckily for us and any other business with a brain, the internet now gives us marketing capabilities we never dreamed possible. And not only does it allow our marketing scope and reach to achieve mind-boggling results, but it also has cut our advertising dollars by 80%. Wow, now that’s what I call saving some serious green.
Whenever I give a seminar on marketing, one of my biggest goals is to have businesses owners, managers, and sales professionals to catch the vision of what the Internet is becoming. In fact, it is my belief that just about
every business that sells anything should quit wasting their time with antiquated mediums and focus 110% of their thoughts and dollars into producing a dominant web presence for their product and business. Sadly, many people are still stuck in the stone ages, but at this point at least the light bulb has finally come on for most business and sales professionals seeking the greatest success and results.
Although I could blab about why the Internet is so incredibly influential on a business’ success or failure, I want to channel my thoughts here on the power, influence, and absolute necessity to create a company website that blows customers minds and inundates them with a mountain of information to digest.
For so many businesses and sales professionals, their websites are a glorified business card, with your basic ‘About Us’ , ‘Our Products’, ‘Contact Us’, ‘blah, blah, blah’. …Consumers, ready for information to read and digest, are miffed with such inadequate and boring websites and only left with a negative impression of that company.
When I got into the swimming pool industry in 2001, I was blown away with the lack of consumer education that was available to potential pool owners. Today, nine years later, things haven’t gotten much better. But truth be told, being in an industry of antiquated thinkers has enabled our company to completely stand out from its competitors.
You see, most sales people and business owners think they commence the teaching/education process to a customer upon their first face to face contact, whether it be in a store on in the home. Such a way of thinking needs to be buried along with the dinosaurs. Today’s consumer wants, needs, and EXPECTS to have significant information on a company and product long before the first face to face contact is ever made.
Having embraced this ‘customer pre-education’ approach for about 5 years now, our company uses the following tools to give our shoppers/researchers/consumers/ whatever-you-want-to-call-them more information then they’ll find from any other inground swimming pool company in the world, and no, I am not kidding. If a customer visits our swimming pool website, they will have the opportunity to:
- Order a 2 hour long educational fiberglass pool DVD showing customer testimonials, a complete pool installation, and many other features.
- Watch over 40 YouTube videos explaining such things a pool maintenance, different pool designs, pool options, etc.
- Read the most extensive blog in the swimming pool industry with well over 100 articles, videos, etc.
- View a library of swimming pool photos.
- Receive a free copy of a 50 page ‘How to Buy a Pool the Right Way’ eBook.
- Learn all about swimming pool costs and pricing.
- Connect with us on a variety of social mediums.
- And a whole lot more.
Now please don’t think I tell you this stuff to toot my own horn or promote my company. I’m also not saying my company’s marketing is perfect….although it ain’t bad;-) What I am saying though is that electronic business cards(AKA most business’ web sites) have no worth whatsoever and are a detriment to their cause.
To give an example of what I’m talking about when I say ‘Pre-Education’ I’ll share an experience I recently had when I met with a nice couple regarding their swimming pool purchase.
Upon arriving at their house, the homeowner, we’ll call him Mr. Jones, opened the door before I knocked and yelled out, “Marcus, Marcus, come on in buddy!” Then, for the next 10 minutes or so, Mr. and Mrs. Jones told me how they had watched our company DVD multiple times, as well as all our YouTube videos. They also said they felt like they already knew me and that I was almost part of the family. (No, I am not kidding) Obviously, I was happy to hear this, but the appointment only continued to get better. Once we started talking about their future swimming pool, Mr. and Mrs. Jones already knew exactly what pool and what options they wanted. Of course, everything they wanted was based on all the articles and videos they’d seen, so it wasn’t like I really had to guide them in the right direction, because in reality I had already done so. Within about 60 minutes of me entering the home, we decided on a pool, its options, and agreed on a price with a starting date. To top it all off, we even had enough time to discuss food, share a soda, and talk about their first barbecue event and how I was expected to come once the pool was done. Finally, after an hour of having met these wonderful people, Mr. Jones slapped me on my shoulder and Mrs. Jones gave me a big hug because I was her, ‘Pool Guy’. (Again, I had only met these people one hour previous.)
Now I know many of you are thinking I’m exaggerating. That’s fine, you can think as you wish. If you look at my company’s website, DVD, blog, videos, etc, you’ll then catch the vision of what I’m talking about. Pre-consumer education is the most powerful tool we have in sales and marketing and most of us are barely even scratching the surface.
Just think about what had happened to the Jones family BEFORE I even arrived:
- They knew me by name.
- They watched and read just about everything I’ve produced, therefore becoming extremely educated.
- They came to see me almost as ‘family’.
- They knew what pool and options they wanted and why they wanted them.
- They knew they were going to do business with us.
So is customer pre-education powerful? Well I’ll let you be your own judge at this point but hopefully you’ll finish this article asking yourself these two questions:
Am I committed to embracing the future?
Do I offer my customers a mountain of information, or am I just giving them a molehill?
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