The future of selling will be selling without actually selling

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The expectations towards content marketing will increase in the coming years. Consumers will be spoiled with so many interesting content, that the low quality work will have no audience anymore. Even the average work will have no audience anymore.

Snagging consumers will become more and more difficult. Today, consumers go looking for interaction with no more than five brands. Technology is making it increasingly easy for consumers to shield themselves from commercial messages. Being extremely relevant is the only way of keeping the consumer’s attention going.

Inbound marketing is increasing in importance

In order to prepare to a more selective consumer, it makes sense to look into our content marketing approach. The questions are: what will the percentage be of inbound versus outbound marketing. In the ‘old’ world, we found clients through outbound sales and marketing efforts. In the future, inbound marketing will increase in importance if you look at the trends described in the introduction.

ING recently reported that 95% of customer interactions originate with the customer. The rise of inbound marketing is going fast in the last few years. In other words: the pull model has already replaced the push model. Data are absolutely invaluable in order to be relevant. Your company will need to create the perfect personalized message on the basis of data if it is to earn the consumer’s attention.

It’s quite funny, really: the foundation of the marketing of the future was described in the 80s, back when CRM and direct marketing were hot. Today we can finally execute what was described back then. The philosophy is sound and modern technology makes it possible.

Selling without selling is about offering relevant content in an extreme way. Content tells a story and gives people something of value. It’s less and less about your own product and more and more about what consumers can do with that product. The new sites for Kraft and Coca Cola already carry out that message. In both cases, the product itself has been pushed to the background and both sites look more like a digizine than a website. This is selling without selling.

Why content marketing is not sufficient?

Every company states to be investing in content marketing. Often content marketing is seen as publishing a Facebook update every day to gather a bunch of likes. In many cases, content marketing is not linked to business objectives.

The term selling without selling reminds companies that in the end, there is always a sales objective. The content should be linked to business objectives and to data gathering.

The four foundations of selling without selling
Selling without selling model

Four principles are essential to success:

  • Invest in your own media: link your content to your own media instead of letting it float around on the internet. Try to lure consumers to your own platforms to consume content.
  • Content as bait for data: content is a bit like baiting the hook when going fishing. Many companies are simply throwing worms into the water: a fish comes along, swallows the worm whole and it’s gone. By attaching that bait to a hook, customers get hooked in when trying to take a bite out of the worm. Use this metaphor in your content marketing and capture data through your content.
  • A mix of big and small stories: sharing stories on a day-to-day basis is part of the 2020 marketing philosophy, but take care to alternate between big and small stories. Red Bull are the undisputed masters in this respect. They come up with amazing stunts from time to time, but they also maintain a content flow that suits the brand. Both aspects are important.
  • Design, design, design: content should be relevant but, more than anything, it should be well-designed. There’s a phenomenal difference in impact between a classic story and an engaging story. Designers will become increasingly important in the years to come.

What are your ideas about selling without selling. Do you see other criteria that are really important to create impact. Please let me know via your comments.