How do you prefer to be contacted?

This way won't work, Road Closed

A few days ago, I volunteered my time to provide some market research for another B2B service company. One of the questions the researcher asked me was, “How do you prefer to be contacted by service providers in this field?” At first it seemed like an innocuous question; the researcher was trying to give guidance to his client about what channels would be most effective for getting their message out to prospects. However, as I contemplated my reply, I realized that something had fundamentally changed in the way I want to be contacted. The truth is that I don’t. I don’t want to be contacted by service providers “fishing” for prospects that need their services. At the time that I have a need, I want to find the service provider that I need at my door. This may seem far fetched and the market researcher certainly didn’t like my answer, he persisted with, “Would you prefer postal mail, or email communication from service providers in this field?” Though I admitted that I’d prefer email to postal mail I had to stick by my original position. I don’t want to be contacted until I have a need.

In years past, we had to reach out to prospects, interrupt what they were doing, and tell them about our services. There was no other effective way to get the word out. Especially if you had a service in an emerging market, a service that people didn’t know they needed, or that they could buy, you needed to offer it to a lot of people and then cultivate the small percentage of those who actually did need it.

But Google and the Internet has changed all that. If I need information on something it doesn’t come to me anymore, I go to it. I don’t have a newspaper delivered to my door, I don’t read through junk mail looking for things I need, when I perceive that there’s a need I would pay money to get rid of, I go looking for a solution — believing that one can be easily found.

Service providers need to make themselves radically discoverable. 

This is a fundamental change in the way products and services go to market. Instead of reaching out and prospecting by calling, mailing, or otherwise interrupting potential prospects — hoping that some small percentage of them will respond. Service providers need to make themselves radically discoverable. We need to offer truly valuable resources to our prospects that will solve real problems for them so that we build the credibility and trust that enables those same prospects to come to us when they have the kind of problems that a blog post or online template can’t solve. We need to understand what our prospects are searching for and make sure that when the do have a need and go looking we can be found.

This is why Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Blogs and other forms of content marketing are getting so much emphasis. This fundamental shift is not new, but the rate of change is accelerating. The longer you wait to get on board the more difficult it is to keep up. Once one firm gains a critical mass of content, links and followers, it gets exponentially more difficult and more expensive to usurp their position.

EnMast is pulling together experts 

Because this is so critical, EnMast has pulled together a group of experts in these areas and we are taping an on-line round table discussion where they will share their ideas and best practices for improving your discoverably. We’ll have it on-line in the next week or so. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you.

What’s your best tip for being discovered by prospects that have a need?

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