This week I attended an exhibition in London for sales and marketing and it was like going back in time. People using sales and marketing techniques from the 1990s. I wondered, in what is nearly the second decade of the 21st century are we really marketing as we did in the 1990s?
The Marketing Reality Today
We ignore adverts, sales pitches, unsolicited emails and unsolicited calls, they are all interruptions and we live busy lives and have no time for all of them. What we want is information and insight. We want to be educated. I want to understand how this will help me, my company, my industry? I don’t need adverts at Canning Town train station, I just ignore them. I want a company to be relevant to me, to educate me, adverts at train stations, sponsorship of exhibition bags and big stands don’t cut it.
In the old days, the only way to contact people in your target accounts was to phone them up. Even then, cold calling was irritating and intrusive. We have all been in that situation where we are being pushed by management to call up prospects, but know in our heart of hearts that will probably just piss them off and the exercise will back fire on us.
Of course today, we have social media, we can build relationships (with is different from spamming people). We all know that people buy from people and they are more likely buy from people they know and trust.
In the area that I have always sold is Enterprise Business to Business (B2B), people have always looked for experts. When I sold payroll software I needed to understand the drivers for change and the industry issues. For example, in construction how to pay contractors, or in Public Sector how to support multiple employment’s. When I moved onto selling Accounting software I had to understand what an accrual was, what commitment account was, why somebody might not want an Accounts Receivables (AR). Hopefully I haven’t bored you with these examples, in all the areas we sell we have similar examples and we are experts. This is what our LinkedIn profile is for, to show the prospects that are searching for our goods and services that we are experts.
An expert is different from a sales person who wants to shove their product down out throats.
Buyers today, want experts who can help them, not sales people giving out brochures. Nobody gets up in the morning and says “today I need to talk to a sales person”. I cannot believe that we actually had sales people coming up to us with what some 1990s sales guru probably called “an opening benefit statement”. Really?
Content is for Life – Exhibitions are For Just a Few Days
The other problem with exhibitions is the reach and the longevity or lack of both reach and longevity. At an exhibition you are only talking to the people at the exhibition on Linkedin there are 610 Million people. At the exhibition you have two days to make contact with those people, on social the content is there forever, it’s a permanent footprint. I still get inbound from content that was posted 4 years ago. Good content, will work for your forever.
Exhibition Reality Check
You don’t need to spend money on brochures, you have a web site after all. In fact, people don’t want to read brochures they only tell us how great you are. Everybody says this. And after all, we are not experts so your brochure will tell us how great you are. But you would say that wouldn’t you and so does everybody else.
OK, I’m going to say this, as a brand you don’t need to spend money on exhibitions, your prospects and clients will find you on the internet.
So why am I here you may ask? Well I live in London so it’s easy for me to get here, they offered me a free ticket and I use it as a place to meet past and future suppliers, prospects and customers.
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