By Sasha Berson
Decades since the advent of the Digital Revolution, there are industries that still view digital marketing as nearly irrelevant to their business — industries where business owners are “too busy” because there is “enough work” coming from non-digital channels. Until there isn’t.
Whether you’re looking to carve out a niche in such an industry, or you’ve been contacted by a change agent — an employee who’s looking to modernize the business — you’re facing a tough sell. How do you prove your case on digital marketing and help business owners see the big picture?
Let me offer a three-step method I’ve developed in order to help an industry that, when it comes to digital marketing, is largely stuck in the stone age: the stone shop industry. These companies fabricate and install stone countertops for kitchens, bathrooms and fireplace walls. These steps can be applied to any industry.
Step 1: Understand The Business Drivers
To make a compelling case, you have to learn the industry’s macro and micro business drivers, challenges, threats and opportunities to increase revenue.
Here are the questions that you need to be able to answer:
• What are the primary factors that drive demand? For example, for the stone shop industry, we identified consumer confidence, real estate prices and population growth as the key demand drivers.
• How do these businesses generate demand? They haven’t turned to digital marketing yet, so they must have a mechanism for getting new business. Is it traditional marketing, referrals, partnerships? Is there a case you could make for why digital marketing would be more advantageous?
• What macro threats and opportunities is the industry facing? For example, in the stone shop industry, raw material prices are going up due to the temporary tariffs levied against Chinese suppliers. Manufacturers are taking advantage of the situation and raising prices. These inflationary pressures are certain to affect demand.
Step 2: Dig Into Industry Trends (And Predict Where They’re Going)
The “busier” the business owner, the higher the chance they do not take the time to study what’s ahead. This is an opportunity for your agency to understand and translate the trends and explain the role that digital marketing can play in increasing revenue and profitability.
The simplest way to spot a trend is to take your findings from Step 1 and understand the outlook for the demand drivers. So, in sticking with our stone shop example, where the demand drivers included consumer confidence, real estate prices and population growth, we asked ourselves: What is the trend for new home construction? Is consumer confidence strong enough to sustain demand for stone shops’ products in the long term? If you have identified the right macro industry drivers, it is easy to find information online and understand what the future holds.
Most owners of traditional businesses don’t see the entire picture, as they are terribly busy — until they won’t be. If you help them understand, they will have time to take precautionary steps to maintain or even increase revenue before the storm hits.
Step 3: Use The Numbers To Make Your Case
Use specific numbers to present the facts. Using typical conversion and closing rates, you can show the return on investment (ROI) of going digital. If you’ve had even one client in the industry you’re prospecting, you can extract and use additional data: customer acquisition costs, rate of referrals, the potential for repeat work from one client, overall digital marketing ROI and more.
This three-step method helped us onboard several stone shop owners working in different areas, who are already seeing great results. You can apply the same three-step methodology to any other industry and increase your chances to become an irreplaceable growth partner.