Sitting across from you right now is a stern looking prospect – an end user in mining of the type of plant, equipment and services that your company provides.
“I don’t know who you are,” he says.
“I don’t know your company’s solutions.
“I don’t what your company stands for.
“I don’t know your company’s record.
“I don’t know your company’s reputation.
“I don’t see your name in any of the mining publications I receive.
“I don’t see you mentioned in any of the mining websites I visit.
“I don’t read your blog. I don’t subscribe to your newsletter.
“I don’t hear my peers or suppliers talking about your solutions.
“I don’t see you at any mining events.
“I don’t find your content in Google Searches.
“I don’t connect your solutions to my problems.
“I don’t feel the gravity of your credibility or credentials.
“I don’t have a tangible way of gauging your expertise or experience.
“Now what was that you wanted to sell me?”
The moral of the story here: sales in mining start long before your sales people call – with marketing. But I’ll return to this later.
The biggest problem I find among mining suppliers and service providers that invest in marketing is that they typically ask themselves, “How and when I am going to get a sale?” This is completely the WRONG question to ask.
Investing in marketing is like putting petrol in your car: it’s a necessary, but not a sufficient step to get to your final destination.
Will you have a better chance of reaching your destination with a tank of petrol? ABSOLUTELY!
Will you get to your destination on an empty tank? – NO WAY!
Rule #1: SELL the same way you BUY
The first less in marketing is that you need to sell the way you BUY.
When was the last time you bought plant and equipment or industrial services over the phone from someone you never met? – NEVER?
When was the last time you bought plant and equipment or industrial services via a SPAM email? – NEVER?
When was the last time you bought plant and equipment or industrial services just based on a brochure or flyer? – NEVER?
When was the last time you bought plant and equipment or industrial services just based on an ad? – NEVER?
So why don’t you buy this way? – Because there is zero value for you.
YOU don’t BUY this way, so why should your prospects?
The question you have to ask yourself is: what VALUE have I added to my prospects to EARN THE RIGHT to engage them and offer solutions to their headaches, pressures, demands, challenges and needs?
Rule #2: Referrals are great, but end users in mining aren’t MORONS
The second key lesson in marketing is that referrals and recommendations are great, but don’t hang your hat on them because end users in mining aren’t stupid.
Now I know what you’re going to say: ‘We don’t have to invest in marketing. All of our business comes by word of mouth.’
If that’s your attitude good luck!
You may get by on referrals for a while, but sooner or later a competitor will come into the market and take market share from you or market conditions will weaken – or all of the above.
The problem is you have no idea what’s driving customers and prospects buying decisions. But trust me: your customers and prospects will check you out before they pick up the phone or drop you an email.
And how do you think your prospects react when they discover:
Your outdated website. Look and feel from 2004? – Bad. Products and services on your site that you don’t offer any more? – Very BAD!
Your lone testimonial from five years ago from an unattributed source. C’mon. Who are you kidding?
Your sporadic blogs. You started blogging every week for a month or two but then stopped for six months before posting your next blog. This is disconcerting and makes people ponder ‘why did they stop blogging?’. Make time to blog or get someone to blog for you.
Your lame News page. Your last post was about what the workshop supervisor likes to do in his spare time – and that was six months ago. I hear crickets chirping.
Web links that don’t work. Outdated websites are a sin, but broken links, documents that don’t load or applications that don’t suit all types of mobile devices …these are cardinal sins.
Articles and press clippings from five, 10 or 15 years ago! Reminds me of that Bruce Springsteen song Glory Days. Get my drift.
Your bare bones LinkedIn profile. Would you rather connect with a person you’d never met whose LinkedIn profile has a photo of themselves on their last fishing trip with a one-sentence bio and one testimonial – and that’s from someone with the same surname? Alternatively, would you rather connect with someone you’d never met who had a LinkedIn profile with a professional photo, a fully and concise employment history, referrals and five quality recommendations?
Referrals and great, but they’re no substitute for relevant, up-to-date, and informative content on your website, and social media platforms.
Neglect RELEVANT and UP-TO-DATE content at your peril. Why? Because you run the risk of EMABARRSING yourself to advocates if they hear back from referrals about your outdated information or a lack of information.
The question you’ve got to ask yourself is this: does my overall online presence reassure and reinforce my credibility as a solution provider? Is there enough VALUE in the information about my company and me online for an end user in mining to make an informed decision about the purchase, procurement and specification of the plant, equipment and services that I provide? – If not, then you’ve got some work to do.
Rule #3: Become a TRUSTED ADVISOR
The final key point about marketing is that it is a process NOT AN EVENT. It is the sum of those events that leads to you being a trusted advisor and winning the work.
The process of building customer relationships begins with your REPUTATION; it is the beating heart of your business. Having a great company record in project delivery, for example, is not enough. If you think you work ‘speaks for itself’ then good luck and may the force be with you.
The second part of the marketing process is AMPLIFICATION. This is about COMMUNICATING what you do to your prospects and customers. This is where PR, social media, blogging, content marketing and SEO come into to play. Communication is king.
The third stage of the marketing process is LEVERAGE. By building a profile based on providing VALUE through articles, whitepapers, videos, interviews, blogging, case studies and social media you can then start to connect with customers and prospects using the credibility that you’ve built. It’s where you bait the hook – but not just any old bait, hook or rod; it has to be the right content, delivered via the right channel to the right people. Communication is king, but ENGAGEMENT is queen.
The final stage is GRAVITY. This is the payoff part of the marketing process. All the momentum you’ve built through REPUTATION, AMPLIFICATION and LEVERAGE starts to pay dividends. Prospects start approaching you. Not the other way. Customers and clients turn to you for advice and guidance. Your customer base will grow and size of your customers will grow. As a result, you can charge a premium for plant, equipment and services with confidence because you know that people are getting more than a widget or a service; they’re getting VALUE.
As a mining supplier or service provider, do you want to make more sales to strangers or do you want to develop stronger, deeper and more rewarding relationships from people who come to know you and your company when they have a challenge, headache or problem they need solved? If the answer’s yes, stop trying to be another same-o lame-o supplier and start becoming a TRUSTED ADVISOR.
So let’s go back to that stern looking prospect sitting opposite you that I mentioned at the beginning.
How can you sell to this person without laying the necessary groundwork?
Answer: you can’t.
You can’t just like you can’t drive from Perth to Port Hedland if you haven’t first filled up on petrol, planned your journey, set your GPS, stopped off along the way for refreshments, and put in the hours and kilometres to reach your final destination.
Jamie Wade is the director of Wade Business Media. He helps industrial suppliers and service providers connect to end users in the resources, construction and infrastructure sectors.