At an executive breakfast late last week, the topic turned to the challenge of quantifying the return on investment when putting resources into developing a brand.
There was a common theme for most of the executives around the table – “Yes we know brand is important, yes social media seems the right place to achieve it, no we don’t do it well.”
It’s a challenge in particular for sales driven organisations. While most of us agree that “brand is good”, when faced with the everyday demands of the next client, the next deal, the next phone call, the next meeting, or that pesky gap in budget, brand investment can fall by the wayside.
In my title above I’m paraphrasing the great Andrew Davis.
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davis, Author, Brandscaping
This resonates with me, as it succinctly shows the relationship between content and results.
Content can be either created or curated. If you are curating, it does provide some value to your target audience, as you are displaying likeness and similarity between your interests. If a business regularly shares content relevant to me, I become familiar with them.
Familiarity only gets you so far. When content is created it gives an insight into what makes that person/business tick. It displays your culture, your values, your beliefs, your reputation, your identity. It lifts the veil on a corporate veneer and really lets your audience see what drives you. This is how content can form a basis for Relationships.
Absolutely, social media is only one of many many ways to build and maintain a relationship. But, between every call, every visit, every coffee, every lunch, every event, every presentation, every tender, social media is a powerful way that sales people can keep the conversation going, and growing, with their clients.
Ever bump into an old school friend that you haven’t seen in years, and yet they know all about how your newborn is keeping you up and night, or all about your recent holiday in Thailand? That’s social media content maintaining a relationship. Just because they didn’t necessarily comment, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t learn a little more about you, and remember it for your next interaction.
Trust is consistency in actions over time. Through keeping the relationship going over time with a consistent message about what your business stands for and delivers, the relationship creates trust with you and your target audience.
This trust is crucial in achieving sales success, particularly if you are selling a service or an intangible. In the absence of a physical product, the individual salesperson becomes the brand itself. Stephen Covey’s “Speed of Trust” is probably the book that covers this topic the most thoroughly that I have seen and is definitely worth a read. In short, trust is the oxygen that fuels buying decisions. The perfect product, pitch, or price point won’t make a difference if your audience doesn’t believe you.
Content = Relationships = Trust = Sales.
Whether you are a business owner, a marketer, a sales manager, or a sales person, remember this equation when deciding how you personally prioritise and measure your investments in brand. There is a direct link between sales performance and the relationship intimacy that can be developed by creating your own content.
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If you have experienced first hand how investing in brand has directly led to sales, then please do share it with all of us by commenting below – the more examples for all of us to draw on the better!