Faster, Smarter, Louder: Master Attention in a Noisy Digital Market, by Aaron Agius and Gián Clancey
Whether you are a mature company, a start-up or an independent service provider, if you are not using digital marketing (or not getting results,) you need to read this book.
It describes a six-part journey through which you need to take your potential customer or client. The end-point is a sale - followed by more sales. The logic is clearly explained and the book is full of insights and good advice.
The process starts with building your brand. The foundation stones of any successful brand are credibility and validation. However, that is only part of what will make a digital brand attractive and engaging enough to build a loyal traffic base.
There are essentially three types of media open to you: paid, owned and earned.
Paid media includes TV ads and billboards, Google Ads, Facebook ads and so on. It carries no authority or impartiality; all you need to do is pay the fee. What paid media is very good at, is getting your brand in front of your prospects.
Owned, Earned, Paid
Owned media is your website and your social platforms. Owned media benefits from the fact that you can make the rules. The challenge is that it is up to you to find and create your audience.
Earned media has a credibility not found in the other types. The authors illustrate this point with a tale of two different talk shows running in two different studios, discussing the same subject. One speaker is introduced as Graham White and the other as Doctor Graham White. No prize for guessing which person the audiences are more inclined to believe.
"All other information being equal," the authors explain, "we look for secondary indicators to decide whether someone or something is credible." This indicator allows us to make micro-judgments that save us hours of time each day.
Once our name begins to mean something, people begin making inquiries about our business, and presenting themselves as leads rather than bouncing away from the site. Now you have built a reputation as a leader in your industry.
Marketers rely on a combination of three types of media, but the medium isn’t the issue. The issue is how you use them. Whether you use owned, paid, or earned media, you will still need to remember that every indicator matters: how you look, reply, present, write, and more.
The long game
Unlike sales which is a short-term game, branding is a long-term one, so you cannot fake it. The branding journey takes time even if you make all the right moves. You must be credible, but you also have to be visible.
Allied to this is the imperative to protect your capital – your brand. Successful people and even more so those starting their brand-building, cannot afford to be associated with the wrong people, used in the wrong way, be seen in the wrong way, or have the wrong things said about them. Every positive judgment someone makes about you is a micro-commitment to your brand and to your credibility.
(Revisit your CV, your business cards, your proposals, and pitch documents. How do they look? Are they professionally designed? Do they look like someone put thought and care into creating them?)
You can, of course, get fixated on your brand and not expend enough energy on bringing in revenue. The remaining five parts of this book address the route that will lead to money making.
The second part focuses on increasing traffic to your online platforms through a variety of proven practices. To attract people, you need content that is compelling and valuable beyond what others are offering. In the digital world competition is extraordinarily keen.
Since your goal is to get your leads to buy your product or service, you want to get good at converting and closing, but you have to lay the groundwork first.
It starts with finding the "pain points". Until you have identified the pain points and can explain in detail the problem, the impact it carries, and the feelings associated with it, you shouldn’t be pitching solutions. That you can start doing when you can explain the pain someone is experiencing better than they can. Then you will be recognized as an authority in that particular field.
A SalesForce report states that it takes six to eight touchpoints before a prospect becomes a client. The touchpoints are not six to eight solicitations of business, but rather educating and entertaining with your content.
"Rather than making a sales play," the authors explain, you should be asking, "How can we be of benefit to you? How can we solve your problems? How can our solution, service, or product provide value to your life?"
At this stage your aim is only to have the prospects feel comfortable with knowing you. This is how successful multi-touchpoint engagement works. If you genuinely want your business to help others and they feel that, you are closer to a sale. Many businesspeople believe that asking this sort of question is demeaning. The authors have concluded something quite different: you can’t solve someone’s problem or otherwise help them if you don’t ask the questions.
You are in business to close sales, not hoping for them. It is in your best interest to do everything you can to increase your probability of success. And often the process is not all online. Live interactions, person-to-person moments, are amazing for creating future opportunities.
Email is still one of your business’s most valuable owned assets and can be used very effectively to move prospects closer to becoming clients or customers. Firstly, prospects must ‘opt in’ which is a clear statement of interest in what you are offering.
"In every chapter, we’ve stressed the importance of authenticity and adding value to every single interaction with your community." One has only earned the right to offer solutions after we put the time, money, energy, and effort into building credibility for our brands.
This book is not for people who want a quick fix to building a brand and a steady stream of sales. There’s an old saying that the best time to invest was a hundred years ago, but the second-best time is today.
The same is true for your digital marketing.
Readability Light --+- Serious
Insights High +---- Low
Practical High +---- Low
*Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on strategy and implementation and is the author of ‘Strategy that Works’ and ‘The Executive Update.’ Views expressed are his own.