a recent engagement illustrates the challenges of integrating the worlds of inbound marketing and direct sales. the client and I had some lively exchanges about strategic direction in establishing a social media footprint for his business. it comes down to apples.
push versus pull
my concept was to maintain the client’s existing social media properties (twitter and facebook, along with a new linkedin profile) as a sales-focused persona. he’d talk about deals he’d done, ask for business and referrals, etc. meanwhile, we would start to establish a separate entity to be an objective source for information, to help explain industry stuff without the hard sell. a second twitter handle and a separate facebook page would support the development of this expert persona.
the client wanted to use social media as a promotional channel. yes, the blog would provide useful information, but always with a pitch. he is doing the right things for success on that path. the new linkedin profile has resulted in several inquiries; referral partners have asked him to established cross-posting partnerships, which will strengthen his site’s SEO. he is creating plenty of content.
making the sales funnel your friend
I still think that the original plan was sound. long term, a sales-focused model is a limiting strategy in terms of the business it will drive. here’s why: the sales funnel starts wide and gets narrower. a blogging/inbound marketing persona can capture more leads and influencers, those who might recommend you, earlier in the cycle because the information is not sales-focused. might-be borrowers don’t want a sales pitch, but finding a source for information they are not seeing other places gets them in a receptive frame of mind and establishes a trust relationship.
a online presence that is openly focused on pulling in prospects, on the other hand, catches only some of the prospects who have gotten to where they are not just kicking tires. it doesn’t get all of them, because some will already have been sucked out of the market by the competition. it doesn’t capture many influencers because most people have no reason to read sales-centric information.
(note that if you were running a pay-per-click campaign, you would want the latter situation because every non-converting visitor costs you money. with social media, however, it doesn’t cost any extra to cast your net wide, and the long term rewards are significant.)
and what about the apples? the sales persona helps to get the low hanging fruit. your social media presence, the expert persona, grows trees.
agree? disagree? share your experiences in the comments below!
photo credit: fauxto_dkp CC 2.0