It's no secret that many shoppers use brick-and-mortar stores to window shop products before they purchase them online usually at a fairly significant discount. It's often helpful to peruse the shelves, checking out features and benefits before making a purchase. Who hasn't walked into a retail store, looked at a bunch of flatscreen television sets and then headed home to make the purchase on Amazon? Heck, that's the reason Borders bookstores went out of business.
Not surprisingly, this behavior carries over to the personal life to corporate purchasers professional roles. A colleague of mine, a top seller who used to deliver lectures on sales, always noted that he was rarely part of an RFP that he didn't help to write. What he meant was, long before the purchaser calls to talk to about your products, they narrow down the field of potential vendors.
These days, the sales cycle starts by an anonymous visit to your website. Only if they like what they see there, do they engage a salesperson. What are those anonymous shoppers looking for? They want to see the obvious things, features and benefits of course, stability, and your market presence. But more and more, especially as companies use technology purchases to gain a competitive advantage, purchasers want to know that you share a common vision for the future of their industry.
The most effective way to demonstrate thought leadership is through a company blog. Yet, recent research shows that while Fortune 500 companies remained steady in their use of corporate blogs, blogging among the Inc. 500 has declined.
In part the decline in blogging has been offset by a rise in Facebook and Twitter use, which are significantly more interactive. Both social media tools provide a frictionless method for companies to engage directly with their customers. That being said, sometimes it takes more than 140 characters to say what you have to say.
Blogging represents a frictionless way to tell your customers that you understand the problems and share their concerns. Also, blogging shows how your thinking has evolved, or not, over time.