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December 02, 2009


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Frankly, I think your blog and website is a great example of how to market a product with a long sales cycle. I am attempting to emulate with our new blog www.dontaskdontsell.com.
This property is intended to share stories and tips only as a means to help customers along. I've been selling enterprise application my whole life and you are spot with regard to the importance of undestanding a buyers persona. Thanks


Just this morning, I was reading a UMass study (http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/studiesresearch/mediaandadmissions.pdf) that touches on the subject.


Long term marketing is a matter of building trust, confidence and developing a complete relationship with the prospect. Some of the difficulties arise when contacts and players on the prospect side change. LTM is then a matter of building relationships within the target organization.

Your blog is one great example of how to maintain these relationships and solicit new ones. Establishing yourself as the expert willing and able to provide assistance keeps you at the top of the list!


David Meerman Scott

DenverSEO - very good point on the issue of people within a company changing.


Real Estate has an average of a 7 year repurchase cycle. The RE industry has proven to be an early adopter of creating content to bridge the huge gap.

Jamie Mordaunt

My business combines two sales cycles that are typically long term: diamond jewellery and weddings.

We've been doing some trade shows recently and talking to lots of brides, and many of them are telling us that they will be getting married in 2011 or 2012 (and one couple are making plans for 2015!), so lots of time to cultivate a relationship there...

And as for diamond jewellery, well engaged couples typically get a diamond engagement ring quite early on in the process, but it's a hugely emotional and significant buying decision, so lots of online research takes place.

The best of the jewellery companies understand this and so they provide plenty of information online (about diamonds etc) which might not lead to an immediate purchase, but does help the customer become more comfortable and confident about dealing with a particular supplier.

Wedding vendors often blog about 'real weddings', great new wedding ideas (with lots of imagery) etc, and this does the same thing: it feels more like a conversation and it builds confidence over the long sales cycle.

People are obsessive about their weddings: they do so much research online and they want to get every detail 100% right. So we feel we need to give them plenty of information and give them the time and the space to make those decisions for themselves.

David Meerman Scott


Wow - interesting example. Many thanks for sharing.


Deb Orton

Of course, B2B Software has a long sales cycle and solving business issues with Business Analytics isn't an easy decision for a company. We at SAS are assessing all of our content with an eye to what a prospective customer might need at each stage of their buying cycle. We are also using our own SW to automate the process and put the prospective customer in charge of the content they choose.

We are excited about the changes and realizing that it all easy to say...difficult to do...but we are committed!


"By the time we actually choose a school" - WE?? Are you planning on going to school with her?

Julia Atzesberger

We offer streaming technology and are currently redesigning our corporate website, blog, e-Store and open source community to provide our buyer personas with the information they require. Since streaming is something that every business needs sooner or later (just like a website nowadays) and we serve major TV stations as well as start up radio station entrepreneurs, the difference in background knowledge and length of buying cycle is vast. Buyer personas accessing our content range from business (CEOs, Marketing) to tech (CTOs, developers). Then we need to add the multiple language /country component - a real challenge! Thanks for this interesting post – we hope to successfully put theory into practice soon.

David Meerman Scott


No but I will be paying for the school so I have a say in the decision. Much like selling any complex product, there is more than one decision maker.

Tessa Carroll

The fact that you used the auto industry as an example of a long-term sales cycle that just doesn't get it, couldn't be more appropriate. The auto industry isn't considered "pushy" for no reason. In fact, the only company I've seen that understands the sales cycle and translates it through their content appropriately is Hyundai. They understand that customers often need some time to make purchasing decisions and they offer plenty of information to help them along the way.

Tessa Carroll

Jon Davito

Great post! You bring up a concept that I think I've always understood in pieces but have never quite been able to articulate. The concept being that there is value in participating in conversations with people before they become customers...or even prospects. Thanks for connecting the dots.

In my particular example, I support a company that acts as business intermediaries (or brokers). We've always marketed to people who are "sellers". That is, people who are ready to sell their business now or worse need to sell their business now. The problem with that approach is business owners don't often self-identify as "sellers". They identify as operators. So perhaps marketing only to the seller mentality has been limiting.

Your post got me thinking that we should also be paying attention to and providing services for folks who may need to sell someday. In other words, people who aren't yet our target client, but will be sometime in the future. Thanks again for the post and thanks for being so consistent with your good content.

David Meerman Scott

Glad to help, Jon.


One example is www.Leads360.com, a site for a lead management software provider. The site is featured in the white paper "Ten Hallmarks of Great Web Content." (http://bit.ly/TCF-GreatWebContent)

Leads360's differentiator is its "should we work together?" tab, which spells out the sales cycle plainly. The site also has content channels for each of their target industries, and various media for early, middle, and late cycle readers.

I blogged on the same topic recently: Great Web Content Recognizes the Intent of the Reader (http://bit.ly/8tlRBU)

Openness with information for readers at early stages will engage the reader with the brand early, while opinions are forming. And readers respond to different media at different stages (see post).

I agree with Jon that this post connects the dots well, using a great example. (Having gone through the college application process with two daughters myself, I can relate.)

Jillian Kingsford Smith

Hey David
I think you could apply your thoughts on a long sales cycle to a great deal of businesses. One of my clients is a chain of gyms (or fitness & wellness centres...) in Australia and we're constantly looking for touch points within the purchasing cycle. Most gym memberships are paid on a month-to-month basis, so it's important to keep highlighting the relevance and value add of the facilities, so as to retain membership. You cant forget about people, just because you've got them signed up. We also factor in attracting new members, retaining current, enticing previous members back and then attracting referrals.... so really, the sales cycle never stops. We use a great deal of social media to achieve this, with our focus on providing meaningful & relevant information to help people on their journey to maintaining a fit & healthy lifestyle.

David Meerman Scott

All good thoughts here. Thank you for jumping in. Seems as the companies that treat business as a series of transaction don't do as well as those treating business as a series of relationships.



I have attended your seminar last week and I must say it made a huge impact on my vision as a marketer towards the future (or present…).
Selling to the Telecommunication business could be long sales cycle as your daughter’s college.
Where so many vendors are competing on the same tender, you should be looking on being the most “trusted advisor” than the others. Experience, proof points, customer successes will lead the prospect to believe he had chosen the best partner to invest such huge amounts of $ while bringing his business to a successful implementation on a planned timeframe.
Moreover, in the recent downturn, the vendor should prove his solution to have a decent ROI while making more money for the Service provider in the Telecommunication competitive environment.

David Meerman Scott

Hi Guy. Glad you enjoyed my seminar. Yes, your company does have long sales cycles. But fortunately the Web allows you to market to people at each step in the process. Good luck and keep me posted. David

Tony Faustino

David, when I think of a company who uses great content to market products or services with a long sales cycle, I immediately think of the web analytics company, HubSpot. They know their buyer personas extremely well (small to medium size businesses) and use multiple touch points and great content so these buyer personas can make well-informed decisions about (1) creating content and (2) measuring that content's impact on the overall business.

HubSpot teaches the implementation of a lead nurturing process in their Inbound Marketing University curriculum and also explains it in Brian Halligan's and Dharmesh Shah's fantastic book, Inbound Marketing. HubSpot's ability to integrate numerous consumer education resources that include the Internet Marketing Blog, Grader.com, eBooks, problem-solving webinars, LinkedIn Discussion Forums, and Twitter content simply amazes me.

David Meerman Scott

Tony - I agree with you on HubSpot. That's why I am on the HubSpot board of advisors and why I wrote the forward to Inbound Marketing!!


Tony Faustino

David, I can't help but smile when you rightfully point out my omission of the foreword you wrote for Inbound Marketing! One of the reasons I purchased and studied Inbound Marketing is because of your affiliation with the book and HubSpot's founders.

After posting my comment, I literally thought - I think I left out an important detail. Yup, that's me -- Mr. Rocket Scientist (still laughing and smiling).

David Meerman Scott

No worries, Tony - I like to talk up HubSpot and you gave me a reason!

Christian Russell

This is good stuff. I started internet marketing in real estate, which can often have a time frame of several years. So many Realtors don't have the patience for this, which is why I talk to them as often as I can about the power of blogging. It enables you to leverage your time...to talk with a large number of buyers without worrying about whether they're ready to buy RIGHT NOW. It's called "building a pipeline". If you take care of people at the front end of the buying cycle, you will be the one that gets their business.


Long term commitments, marketing, building strong customer relationships can drive your business to the next level. Planning also hold greater importance.

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