By Joe Pulizzi published May 6, 2007

Is Your Company Communicating Just to Sell?

The more companies I work with, the more I find that an organization’s communication strategy revolves around selling a very specific product or service. Is this necessarily horrible? No, not at all. Of course we want our customers to know about our products, services, specials, and talents. But revolving all communications around a sell can be detrimental to the long-term relationship you are trying to create with your customers.

Here’s how:

1. Whether email, direct mail, in-person seminar (the list goes on), if these touch points focus only on selling your customers or prospects something, that’s exactly the perception you will create. Even if you have simply outstanding products and services, people simply don’t want to be sold…ever. You may get them the first time because your product is great, but you will be hard-pressed to sell them more since you are always selling them. At some point, the customer will fight back by, what else, tuning you out.

2. Your organization’s communications become solely tactical. All reasons to touch a customer are focused around a specific product and service. Long-term strategies are put to the side because you have to sell this particular product. This puts an extremely difficult burden on your outside sales team. Long-term strategies take pressure off of sales because, if effective, they position your organization as an important resource for helping your customers and prospects do their job better.

Okay, enough with generalities…let’s get specific. What can you do as an organization now to create a healthy, long-term relationship with your customers and prospects?

1. More than 50 percent of all messages need to be educational (or non-selling) in nature. Take all your communications to customers and prospects over the last month and lay them out on a desk. Count up the sales messages vs. content you created to simply help your customers become better customers (educational tips, industry challenges, team-building resources, etc.). If more than 50 percent are sales messages, you’ve got a problem. You are not building a relationship with them, you are just plain old selling them.

2. Revisit your vision statement. Are you helping customers win? Take our company’s vision statement for example, “Help Organizations Create Better Content.” We use this vision as our litmus test. Everything (I mean everything) we do must directly tie back to the vision statement. If not, we don’t do it. If you apply this to your company, your communication strategy will drive your company as a true customer resource.

Just doing these two things will make a significant long-term impact on the success of your customers. Customer success = Your success. Simple, but true.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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