Selling the channel or selling the brand

We’ve a long history of doing new business for clients in new and growing industries.  More recently that has meant working with clients in areas such as social media and mobile, and in the past with all sorts of digital agency, from email marketing to search specialists to pure website design and build, to ‘digital production’ so we’ve a lot of experience of how marketing departments move through the stages of embracing a new channel.

Obviously there are the first movers who quickly innovate and then become experts in a new channel but after the first movers come the rest and it takes several years for the rest to follow.  We are seeing that happen now in mobile and social – the rest are starting to move into new channels and catch up with the innovators by integrating these two channels fully into their comms mix.

In selling agencies in these areas it is easy to get confused over what you are selling – i.e. are you selling the channel or the agency; i.e. are you selling ‘doing mobile’/‘doing social’, or are you selling ‘Agency X is the best in the market’.   The features and benefits and the facts and figures to back up each are very different.

Which you sell depends entirely on the person you’re selling to. Their understanding of and attitudes towards the new channel counts; in other words, does the person your selling to understand the channel and if so do they think it has value?

Your salesperson needs to be able to determine very quickly which camp the person on the other end of the phone falls into and once they do they need to have a very clear idea of which set of selling points they should be using, and it’s up to you to help them establish quickly.

To give an example, stats such as “there will be 30m mobile internet users by the end of 2012” sell the channel.  That doesn’t sell Agency X so it doesn’t do you any good with people who have already decided the channel offers value because they’ve probably already scouted out a supplier.  Likewise, saying ‘Agency X is the best mobile agency in the market’ to someone who doesn’t think mobile is a priority isn’t going to get you anywhere.

This is obvious stuff, but it’s easy to confuse the two sets of selling points, especially if in briefing your sales person you lump them together in one long list.  We find it helps to separate them out and make it crystal clear which selling points to use for what.

The problem is that it’s not always easy to discern.

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