We all know that having customers marketing our products/services has more impact than doing our own marketing. Think about it for a second. Are you going to be more motivated to have dinner at a food franchise that tells you how great their food is or are you going to be more enticed if a friend or colleague suggests you go? The reverse is also true … if that friend or colleague says the restaurant is horrible there is no way you’ll be checking it out.
Marketing executives look in the mirror and repeat after me … “Give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” There is a new sheriff in town with new rules. And the new sheriff is the consumer with amazing power to help or kill your brand. (Note: Suggested reading – Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.)
This can be a huge opportunity or a massive catastrophe. You can play the new marketing game, or fail to plan and plan to fail. If you play right, you can win the ultimate customers – customers that rally behind your product/service and paint a beautiful picture of your value all over the social media canvases. The way to accomplish this is to get your potential and existing (don’t forget them) customers on the “A-path”.
The “A-path” execution requires courting and building a relationship – a rapport that leads to trust followed by advocacy at its greatest experienced level. The “A-path” from start to finish is
Have a deep understanding of the target market – their wants, needs, and desires; the communities and networks where they get their information and how they are influenced. Use this knowledge to plan a couple of sound “bytes” or message teasers in appropriate social media outlets to spark some target market ATTENTION. Just plant a seed here – don’t sell.
Once you have sparked a little attention, evolve – ATTRACT them. Find their existing communities. Join their communities. Have conversations with them there. Listen and learn what makes them tick. Start to publish content, answers their questions, give them advice. Don’t sell – represent your company as subject matter experts in your domain area.
Eyebrows go up and the attraction has started. Invite them to join your community by offering them something of added value in your network – more in-depth information or something of that nature. You now have their AFFINITY for you.
Now, capture them as your AUDIENCE – an audience that comes back regularly. This is accomplished by continuously delivering something of interest or value within your community. Have two way conversations, not just broadcasts. Build trust.
Now that you have your Audience, establish one to one relationships with the most social and vocal individuals. Zero in on their needs. Deliver to their needs. Build and increase trust. This will lead to ADVOCATES.
It is not about selling your products/services. Your strategy and frame of mind must be about delivering value. If you accomplish this, your customers will want to speak positively on your behalf. It is human nature – help those who help you.
Contact me if you want to explorer the concepts here deeper and put together your plan.