I had an interesting conversation recently with Sam Page here at Passle, during which he asked why Content is so influential in Expert-to-Expert Sales.
It's a really good question; we've all seen or read about the results of effective Content Marketing and know the reasons that Content is King for most marketeers; it's great for SEO and Top of the Funnel, it engages people and helps with their buyer journey etc, etc.
However, that was not the question Sam was asking; he asked why Expert-to-Expert content was so influential. Our clients have been using publicly-available content to target specific individuals with a level of success that is entirely disproportionate to the time and resources invested and Sam's question was, why? What is it that separates public content from the other means by which we seek to influence people to do what we want.
In our conversation, a handful of the facets of published content were discussed, namely that a message could be delivered at great distance, it could be read at a time that was convenient to the customer and that a message could be repeated and reinforced over time. However, all of these attributes are true of well-targeted advertising but advertising is typically far less influential in high-value sales than well-targeted content.
Last year, James Barclay wrote that there were three principal pillars of influence at play (from Robert Cialdini's six) in a Social Selling context. He looked to Reciprocity, Liking and Authority to explain why content works. He also made the point that only three pillars can be used in any communication. I fully agree with the points he made.
However, in Cialdini's Book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" there is also the statement on page 175 that "we are phenomenal suckers for flattery" and in the context of Expert-to-Expert communications, this is a hugely important point. We generally hold other professionals within our chosen field in great esteem so, when content created by another Expert is personalised for us, it is deeply flattering.
This is why the individualised part of Expert-to-Expert Marketing is so essential; the context of the content needs to be tailored to the recipient, by another respected expert, to have full effect.