Almost every company that says they invest in marketing has a blog, social media presence, videos on YouTube, and downloadable content. And while that's all nice to have, let's be completely honest here … it's probably not doing what you hoped it would.
You had visions of incoming inquiries, new strategic relationships, and an increased visibility within particular groups that would all eventually lead to new business. But none of that really panned out the way you wanted because your content isn't strong enough to stand out in an incredibly noisy marketplace.
Of course you'll be quick to defend your marketing and say it's working and you're happy with the results. And I believe that you believe that. But everyone always thinks they're happy with what they have until they have a taste of something better, and in this case it's no different.
You need to stop investing time and effort in what you're doing and consider two approaches and the philosophy behind them. First, the philosophy.
That philosophy is very likely that you see marketing as a numbers game. You need to have a lot of people on your "hit list" because most are going to ignore you. Change this way of thinking in favour of a new philosophy: focusing attention on fewer contacts so you can build trusted, more personalized relationships with each of them.
A change in philosophy is long overdue because of the amount of noise and clutter that your prospects and customers are facing. They are so inundated with marketing messages targeting their industry or role that they are easy to ignore. The only thing they are going to pay attention to more consistently is highly-personalized communications that demand their attention.
Here's your first goal – create content built specifically for one organization. This means you will need to limit your contact list to a maximum of 40 to 50 companies. Depending on the size of your team, this number could fluctuate. Once you select those companies, you need to learn as much about them as possible. What perceived challenges or threats do you presume they face in their organization? What future trends will affect them? What kind of information can you provide that will interest them?
With this approach you're going to build a simple website with content that is applicable only to this organization. Once ready, you'll reach out to the officers and managers directly through social media as you offer them insights on their personalized Web page.
Organizations will now be far more likely to pay attention to you because everything you're doing speaks directly to them.
Your second goal is all about developing deep personal relationships with the officers and managers from your chosen companies. Find out what they are passionate about, the things they enjoy doing in their personal lives, what sports teams they like, where they like to eat and other information that gives you a clearer picture of the kind of person they are.
This is about connecting at a deeper, more personal level that goes beyond a business relationship. Show them that you're different and you care more than the sales professional who only cares about their budget, signing authority, need, and timeline for beginning a project.
This is what sales and marketing will have to do to achieve greater levels of success in 2016 and beyond. The days of creating identical content for industries is quickly dying. You need to get ahead of the trend and adopt the one-to-one philosophy.
There are forward-thinking organizations out there already adopting the one-to-one philosophy. Take, for instance, the Joie De Vivre hotel chain. They came up with an initiative called the Dream Maker Program, which encouraged employees to learn as much about their guests as possible to make their stay a one-of-a-kind experience. The remarkable and touching stories that come from this program have created strong loyalty for their brand that no amount of generic marketing could have ever achieved.
For myself, testing out this concept a number of years ago for a sales and marketing program I created, I was able to sign 23 out of 25 companies using this very approach.
I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It's a lot of hard work and requires a lot of research and detective work. But it works exceptionally well.
Ryan Caligiuri is a growth strategist and host of Cut the Crap Podcast – a podcast for professionals, entrepreneurs, and business students who don't have the time to read business books but want the big ideas from the world's brightest minds in sales, marketing, innovation, strategy, and management.