It wasn’t the best part of the job. I had no training. I had no idea what I was doing.
Taking catalog orders over the phone seemed simple enough, but for some reason I dreaded it. The fear probably came from the unknown because each time I sat down to take orders I was learning.
I spent five years working for a catalog marketing company. They mostly sold shoes and apparel through different catalog businesses aimed at different target marketers. They also launched a very successful general merchandise business that sold everything you could possibly need and want through a catalog.
This general merchandise business caused things to get really busy at the office. Busy is good, but growth can be stressful.
Part of the stress came in the form of getting too many calls in the call center.
When things would get busy it was all hands on deck to take orders. I was a marketing manager, but when calls started coming in it was my job to get down to the call center to take orders.
Part of my training had been to listen in on the calls from customers with a trained operator. It was a great way to learn who the customers were for each business. It was also a chance to see how important the operator and service jobs were. These people were dealing directly with the customers handling all types of questions.
And that’s where I really learned about the importance of content marketing while taking phone orders.
Content Does Its Job
Many of the calls that would come in were orders. It was a quick one or two minute conversation. The customer knew what they wanted and they were ready to make the order.
Today, I realize this means that the content in the catalog had done its job. I didn’t have to do any kind of selling at all. The new customers that were ready to order right away had all the information they needed about the brand and the product.
No matter how good your content is it still seems that people have questions.
People would often call up looking to possibly order something from the catalog, but they would have questions. They would ask about our company and they would ask about specific products.
Sometimes people would even ask for suggestions and direction on what they should purchase. They knew they had a problem and they were intrigued that we could possibly help. Sometimes they would explain their needs and look for us to help find the solution.
A big part of content marketing is answering questions.
At the catalog company we would take in all the information customers would ask and improve the catalog content and the products.
Today, brands are taking customer questions and creating guides, videos and other pieces of content that will provide answers for potential customers.
It makes the buying process easier for the customer.
It caught me off guard at first how some people could be confused about ordering a product from a catalog. It seemed like a simple process. You choose your item, find the product number, call and make the order.
But some people would be confused.
I came to realize it wasn’t their fault.
It was our fault. We had not done a good enough job making it easy for these customers to place an order. If these people actually called in to figure it out imagine how many simply threw the catalog out in frustration.
Content marketing is an ongoing effort. You should always look to improve your processes including the content you provide on your website. The checkout process content, the blog posts and the product information all need to provide everything a customer needs in order to feel comfortable about making a purchase.
If not, confusion takes over and you lose sales.
I didn’t really like taking phone orders, but looking back I really appreciate the opportunity I had to speak directly with customers. It gave me a chance to see how important content is when it comes to marketing and business.
Content plays a role throughout the sales cycle. With content you can introduce your brand to a new customer. You can show them something they may not have even realized they needed. With the content you can get them to understand the value the product or service can provide. You can show them how to use it.
That’s how trust is built and it leads to sales.
As you look to build your own content marketing strategy remember that it’s about taking people through your entire sales process.
Image: State Farm