If you own a physical location such as a restaurant or retail shop, it’s pretty easy to see how prospective customers interact with your products and services. They walk in, pay attention to certain items, ignore or don’t notice others, and over time, show you the path that the majority of people will take toward purchasing (or not purchasing) from you. In a coffee shop, for example, it’s pretty easy to watch customers and notice if they are more drawn to high cocktail style tables or comfy armchairs. You can see if they’re searching under the tables for outlets to power their laptops or asking for the WiFi password. You know which drinks they are most interested in (mmm… pumpkin spice!) or which they are turned off by (was it the name or the ingredients that they hated?).
But how can you gather that same information from digital customers – those who check out your website but never make a purchase? How can you learn what brought them in, got them to click through, or ultimately turned them off before they completed their purchase?
There are many ways to get this information. All you need to know is how to ask.
In most customer interactions, such as when a prospect is visiting your website, chatting with a store employee, sampling your items at a market, or calling to ask a question, there is an opportunity for your business or organization to collect a single piece of information that will allow you to learn more about their needs and interests and how to serve them better. It can help you to find other people with similar needs and interests whom you can market to. Over time, this single piece of information can show you where to find your best customers, and you can learn where your limited marketing and advertising budget is best spent.
The key to selling is to get into your prospective customers’ heads and give them exactly what they have been waiting for, before they ever think to ask for it, or even know what it is that they want. Sound crazy? This is the theory that turned ordinary CEO’s Henry Ford and Steve Jobs into business celebrities and two of the most successful entrepreneurs in history.
Henry Ford famously stated “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” When Steve Jobs launched the first iPhone, he didn’t have hordes of customers asking for a phone that could hold an entire music library and replace your music player, or one that you could watch movies and download audio books on. Nobody was asking for it, because no one had considered that it could be done – but now it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t have immediate access to all of the information in the world right in our back pockets.
The Problem of Recruiting without a Marketing Strategy
Traditionally, human resources and marketing have always maintained their own unique educations, their own tracks toward career advancement, and their own goals and agendas. Human resources is focused primarily on recruiting, hiring and retaining staff, and improving the culture and efficiency of the workplace, among many other roles. Marketing is focused on building the brand, increasing awareness of the organization’s products and services in the market, generating leads and drawing prospective customers into the sales cycle, among many other roles. It’s hard to picture a situation where these two would overlap, and in many organizations the problem is that they are in fact, completely separate.
Here’s the problem: in order to attract, hire and retain the best talent, the people who will go ‘all in’ for your organization, who will give their best every day, and who will be your biggest cheerleaders, you need to market to them. The same way that marketing presents your organization’s products and services, and the brand itself, to prospective customers, you need to present the company to prospective employees. In the current economy, there is a lot of demand for high-skilled workers, and a smaller pool of individuals looking for a new job. So you’re now competing with many other organizations to attract and retain those employees, and if you don’t have an attractive story, you’re going to have a hard time getting their attention.
According to a 2016 Hubspot consumer research study, 23% of consumers listened, and paid close attention to podcasts, while 36% admitted to ‘skimming’ podcasts. At the same time, 55% of the respondents stated that they thoroughly consumed video content. If your organization uses podcasting as a way to deliver your marketing message and develop relationships with prospects and current customers, this may be concerning. How is that people are ‘skimming’ podcasts, and what can you do to make sure they’re actively listening to your content? Should you completely abandon your podcasting efforts and move toward video, or develop a multi-channel content strategy?