Wouldn't it be great if your clients and prospects called you more than you called on them? Then you could feel like a valuable business partner, instead of a pushy vendor.
If you work in the oil and gas industry and hear the phrase oil and gas marketing, I'm willing to bet the first thought you have is oil and gas sales.
The oil and gas industry is old school. The most popular industry publications are print versions of various magazines, and most of the sales groundwork is done with a golf club, shotgun or cocktail in hand.
This industry spans the entire globe, but is somehow still one of the smallest in terms of your degrees of separation from anyone else working in the industry. The personal connections in the oilfield family make traditional networking an easy way for the older generation to do their marketing.
I have seen vendors hanging out in the break room with a box of kolaches or breakfast tacos. I have also been the guy who brought breakfast to a client with the intent of turning the visit into an information-gathering session.
There are easier ways to get in front of your prospects, have them see you as the expert in your niche, and have them reach out to you when they're ready to buy.
Lean marketing sets you up to maximize your sales presence with a minimal investment of time and money.
More and more professionals in the oil and gas industry are going online to get industry news and information related to their professional development. They want information that will help them make smart business decisions, and they relay on the people they trust to point them in the direction of valuable information.
What you want, is to be the person that your sector of the industry trusts to point them in the right direction, as well as someone who provides a good portion of the valuable information they are looking for.
With minimal effort, and an ability to shift with the changes in the market, you can position yourself as someone with the answers to the specific questions your customers are looking for. To make that happen there are some important aspects you need to understand about how your competition's marketing is operating, and what you need to do to set yourself apart from the crowd.
Marketing As An Afterthought
Oilfield companies of all sizes treat their online presence as an afterthought, or use it as a repository for their product/service catalog.
That philosophy fits in well with the way business used to be done. Company A needs a product or service, so they pull the product catalog off the shelf, or search for a specific vendor's website.
The lean marketing way of doing business is to leverage your online presence to position you as the expert in your market. Although this process takes time, you can target specific industry trends and pivot as the market changes.
If you need an example, just look at oil prices over the last decade. Your approach to positioning your business today should be quite different from a time when oil prices were above $140/bbl.
Lean Marketing Is About Adding Value
Lean marketing is about providing value to your industry and specifically, your target niche. The content you put out (or don't) paints a picture of your expertise in prospects' minds.
Your website should not be a billboard, visited by prospects only when they want to give you a call. Ideally, you want your existing clients and prospects bookmarking your site or subscribing to your feed so they don't miss anything you publish.
Your content also shouldn't be a sales pitch. If the only reason you go online is to tell the world how great your product or service is, they will quickly tune you out. You want your followers to get excited or at least be a little curious about what you have to say.
By adding value to your immediate network, your content gets shared with your followers' networks, which gets you in front of prospects you didn't even know existed.
Lean marketing done well makes prospect calls a lot easier; the person on the other end of the phone will say something along the lines of, "I read the article you wrote on X, and like what you had to say."
Turning Fans Into Advocates
Lean marketing is about providing so much value to your audience that they stop being fans and turn into advocates. Advocates for your business don't have to use the product or service you provide, but they see you as the expert in your sector. They will recommend your company because they believe in what you're doing. They want to be associated with the decision to use your business.
One of the best ways to build fans and turn them into advocates is to build an email list. A lot of industries use list building to develop a customer base they can sell to when they have a new offer for their followers. This should not be the purpose of your list.
The reason lean marketing in the oilfield incorporates list building into the marketing strategy is to turn fans (the people who initially sign up for your mailing list) into advocates.
Once someone welcomes you into his/her inbox on a regular basis, you have a great opportunity to offer even more value. The more value you provide to this group, the greater the chance they will be happy to see a new message from you and share it with their colleagues.
Set Yourself Apart With Active Engagement
If you're already building a list, or you at least understand why you need to start as soon as possible, then you probably have some sort of signup form on your website. If that is all you have, then you're not engaging your visitor. You could be losing a significant number of visitors to apathy.
Your audience may like what you have to say and come back every time you you publish a new article, video or other content. What they are missing is engagement.
If they enjoy consuming your content, then they would likely be open to interacting with you – even if it's not direct contact.
Interactive questionnaires, surveys or other media that require your visitors to think about their answers are a great way to get them to sign up for your mailing list. For example, ask visitors about their operational issues and what they are doing to solve them. Or have visitors to your site participate in an industry-specific survey to get the results of the survey.
Adding A Personal Touch
The use of electronic communication and lean marketing tactics add a great deal to traditional sales and marketing tactics. The strategies in this article allow you to make the most of your time so you can get in front of more prospects on their schedule in any time zone.
To make lean marketing even more effective, you also need a strategy to follow up with visitors and prospects. Every touch gets you one step closer to closing a sale, so you need to identify and follow up with the people who show interest in your message.
The oil and gas industry is still very networking friendly. Getting on the phone or meeting in person with your prospects is a necessary part of the process.
The purpose of your online presence should be to make those in-person interactions easier from your side of the table. Being seen as an industry expert puts you on a level playing field with your prospect. The alternative is sitting down at the negotiating table being seen as someone your prospect could take or leave.