| January 19, 2021
For most B2B sellers, the last 12 months have been anything but easy.
With face-to-face interaction all but extinct, those who managed to keep their doors open struggled to find and attract new customers.
But through the inferno of 2020, a new marketing and sales framework emerged. It’s called “optichannel,” and in this column, I’ll show you how it works.
MindFire’s experience with it is personal, going far beyond the theoretical and into the hands-on, day-to-day application of this new process. In fact, this new strategy powered all our marketing and sales in 2020.
The result? Growth in new client revenue of 112% and 33% more clients onboarded year-over-year, despite the pandemic economy.
How? Let’s dive in, and I’ll show you.
The Great Divide Between Buyers and Sellers
About a year and a half before “social distancing” entered modern vernacular, we noticed a rather pronounced problem within our marketing and sales operation. While we felt we were putting our market’s needs first, it became apparent that we were failing to do so, as evidenced in mediocre revenues from new clients.
It was as if there was a growing divide between our potential clients and us: What we were selling (marketing software), they were uninterested in; and yet, our existing clients were using more and more of our software.
So we wondered: How could those two things be true?
It became apparent that this divide, exacerbated by a reliance on strategies and tools that previously worked but were suddenly waning in efficacy, was only amplified by the pandemic.
It turns out we weren’t alone. In research performed by HubSpot, the onset of COVID-19 found sellers furiously increasing their email outreach by 59% as they did their best to adjust and revitalize sales.
Yet buyer responses decreased by 25-30% compared to the pre-COVID benchmark.
On the whole, sellers were trying to use their old strategies (and more of them), but buyers weren’t interested.
We were fortunate to realize fairly quickly that if the “current” model of sales wasn’t working before the pandemic, the era of virtual work only served to hasten its demise.
And thus, optichannel social marketing and selling was born.
This new method of engaging one’s market places the buyer’s interests and needs at the core of the experience.
The Optichannel Social Marketing and Selling Framework
At the heart of the optichannel model is content. This content builds awareness, creates leads and closes sales.
But before you think, “Been there, done that,” consider that most well-intentioned organizations are entirely unaware of how to use optichannel marketing techniques to share their content in a way that generates results.
Most fail to realize the potential of harnessing their access to the internet, sprinkled with a modicum of creativity, to produce content and broadcast it directly to their target audience at an unprecedented scale.
And if one knows where and how to publish (that is, which channels are optimal for their audience), large pockets of organic reach are available without paying a dime in advertising.
The framework for optichannel social marketing and selling is, on the surface, straightforward:
1. Decide on a content modality. The first step is to figure out how you (or your organization) best communicate. Are words (e.g., blog posts, LinkedIn articles, etc.), audio (like podcasts) or images (video or pictures) most comfortable?
Assess your natural strength for communicating and commit to using that modality for articulating your message over the next 12 months.
2. Relentlessly produce content that is of value to your target market. Remember the growing divide between buyers and sellers? Plug that hole by understanding that the value your content brings needs to align with the consumer’s desires and interests.
Often, this has very little to do with you or your company. Your intent — the reason behind why you’re communicating — must focus on the needs of your market, not your own.
3. Reverse-engineer where your audience’s attention is; engage and publish there often. Finding your audience’s optimal channel (thus, “optichannel”) means understanding where consumer attention is. This can vary from company to company, market to market.
Once identified, the strategy requires producing multiple pieces of content per day, contextualized for the specific platform your customers are on (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, etc.).
Contextualized means modifying the content to fit the platform’s native delivery mechanisms. In other words, sharing content on Instagram (if that’s where your market “hangs out”) is different than how you’d share it on LinkedIn, which is different than Facebook, and so on.
4. Learn to siphon engagement. Your traction with your market will increase by focusing on the first three pieces of this strategy and applying consistent effort to them. You’ll notice increased engagement, and at that point, it becomes essential to identify ways to turn that engagement into leads and, eventually, sales.
There are numerous strategies for doing this, and when done correctly, bring you a steady stream that already knows, likes, and trusts you and your brand because of the relationship you’ve built with them in their optimal channel.
But a word of caution: Don’t let yourself get stuck on step one. It’s not as hard as it initially seems, especially with the right training. And don’t fall victim to the most common mistake most creators make: assuming their content is about them and their interests.
To successfully employ the model, you must think of the end consumer of your content. Focus on what brings them value, and the rest follows.
Why Use Optichannel Now?
According to a recent LinkedIn survey of over 500 sales professionals, 80% said they have somewhat or completely shifted to virtual selling due to COVID-19.
Of those respondents who said they shifted to virtual selling, 57% believe the new virtual selling model is better than their previous traditional selling approach, and 46% expect to continue selling virtually beyond 12 months.
This new way of working is not going away, which means now is the time to adapt. By placing your market at the center of your focus, finding where they’re already congregating and creating content contextualized to that platform, you’ll find yourself with a steady stream of engagement, conversations, leads and sales.
For more on how to do this effectively for your organization, find me on LinkedIn and mention this article. We’re happy to give you a hand and send you additional resources, training and materials to aid you in your optichannel journey in 2021.
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