We’ve all heard the cry at then end of the quarter on in the annual budgeting meeting – we just need ONE…killer PR piece, awesome ad, or customer reference. The search for a single silver bullet for sales and marketing growth is ever present. But growing companies need more than one home-run to win the game. In fact, there are three foundations of marketing that lead to increased sales in every market and for every product and service: awareness, engagement, and trust.
First, your market must be aware that you even exist. Awareness is what most people think of as marketing because they see it and experience it everyday from companies and brands trying to reach and influence them. The first compelling story about a company or product, the first inspirational ad campaign — these are magical moments because they are often remembered and shared by customers for years. Depending on your marketing mix and budget, awareness can come from advertising, aggressive outbound sales, press coverage, and word-of-mouth public relations. It is the first step of letting people know that your company exists and begin to attract new customers to your company.
The second step is nurturing potential customers who are now aware. You must repeatedly engage these potential customers so that you can turn them into customers. The very best sales organizations understand this…and follow up incessantly. They find a reason to be back in front of the prospective customer with repeat meetings, lunches, phone calls, and enticing emails. Successful marketers must do the same thing, whether through compelling PR, word-of-mouth, email marketing, or through re-targeting (those ads that follow you around after you engage with a company’s website.) Pieces of content or original advertisement are other ways to repeatedly engage. There are several other methods that help you stay in front of that customer once they already know you exist. But the secret is find the balance: repeat what work without being overbearing, and customers can continue to make the decision to buy.
The last piece of the puzzle is trust. Surveys have shown that over 90% of consumers find that trust in a brand matters when purchasing a product. But how do you build that trust when you are launching a new company, a new category or a new product? It’s hard. When your successful product is overshadowed by a new entrant – it can be even harder.
The challenge is that every company thinks they are the best out there. But people outside the company must validate that trust. You must be visibly trusted by people who are seen by your customers as objective third-parties or trustworthy experts with first-hand knowledge. Effective marketing reiterates and repeats those messages of trust through testimonials, through press coverage and through credible influencer marketing. In these ways, you show the market that someone else confirms the company’s own claims, and hopefully the prospective initial impressions, that your company is a good company.
Building this trust over time is called brand equity. Strong brand equity occurs when your brand has so much trust that whatever product it brings to market, whatever innovations and features it adds to existing products, customers try it and prefer it to other products from competitors. As you build brand equity certain aspects of sales and marketing become easier, but in the beginning you must build third-party validation.
When customers become aware of a new company or product, engage repeatedly and trust the messages your company sends forth, you’re on the path to building a brand that can sell again and again. The result? A growing, thriving company.