February 07, 2017

The most important thing modern CEOs are doing to strengthen their brand

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It’s an interesting world out there for the modern CEO in the world of oil and gas. Not only has the economic environment altered, technology has changed how buyers behave as well. It’s no longer enough to continue saying the same things to the same people in the same manner – and that presents its own challenges, regardless of the price of a barrel of oil.

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A survey published by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) has revealed a number of notable findings - findings that every self respecting CEO in the energy sector should be aware of.

In the survey, CEOs were asked to select the connecting technologies they thought would generate the greatest return in terms of engagement with wider stakeholders.

The results were very telling.

68% of respondents stated that it was data and analytics, with 65% believing it would be customer relationship management systems and 50% highlighting the revenue generating properties of social media communications and engagement.

Here’s the flipside - almost a quarter of CEOs (24%) feel they do not have adequate information to identify what customers or other stakeholders actually want, and the third highest challenge cited by leaders of worldwide operations (63%) is understanding what customers value.

In order to make sure you are giving your buyers what they want, you need to know them. Really know them – build personas of them. Do you know what their problems are? Do you know how they go about finding solutions? Do you know where they find information? Is it social media? Is it research papers? Is it case studies? Is it trade or mainstream press? Is it eshots? Is it presentations at business events? The more you know, the more you can deliver. It’s common sense really but it’s certainly not easy.

In the present day, like it or not, businesses have never been more transparent. Information is now available any where at any time and the way society consumes it has rapidly evolved in the space of a few years. People no longer want to be interrupted with poorly targeted information they has no relevance to them, they want to consume material and information that benefits and interests them.

Here’s another statistic for you.

60% of a buyer’s purchase decision has already been made before they ever talk to a sales person. So your selling needs to evolve. You need to keep up with your customers’ buying habits if you want to attract them, and ultimately sell to them.

Getting that right means getting your marketing and sales teams working towards the same goal. Improved sales. Marketing has moved beyond vanity – it’s a tool to be harnessed to speak to your customers and start them on their buyer journey, moving them towards sales at a speed that suits them. 

But before you can start that, you need to ask yourself, do I have accurate personas of my clients? Really? Answer truthfully, now. Fact is, you may think you know everything about them, but invariably you don’t. Yet. Educated guesses can only get you so far. You need to get to know their needs, their wants and their reasons for buying from you.

In order to start to overcome this challenge, it’s key to look at what data you have and how to improve upon it. What don’t you know with 100% certainty? Then think about how to get that information – research and survey your customers. A survey doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. Talk to them. You might be surprised at the results.

The next step is what you do with this information.

Used correctly, it can enable you to lead and co-ordinate your marketing and sales teams to improved sales rates. And more high quality sales are the goal for any organisation. How you ask?

If you are communicating effectively with your customers, by offering insight and helpful advice, speaking their language through channels where they already consume information, then you have a far greater chance of making meaningful contact with them – before they ever pick up a phone to talk to a salesperson.

In depth personas will educate your marketing and sales teams on when and how best to contact potential clients. They will allow you to target channels you know your perfect customers use, develop inbound content plans around topics and formats that will drive engagement with these ideal buyers, and start to move them from interested engagers to happy clients.

So what are we saying?

You might not know what your customers really want. Yet. But you need to find out. After all your customers are the real boss. Not you. So you need to get to know them. Knowledge is power and creating in depth buyer persona for your perfect customers is the first step in amplifying your connection with them.

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