Using the Social Media “A-path” to Capture Ultimate Customers

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

            ATTENTION –>

            ATTRACTIONS –> 

            AFFINITY –>

            AUDIENCE –>

            ADVOCACY

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.

Social Steve

6 Comments

Filed under marketing, marketing plan, social media, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

6 responses to “Using the Social Media “A-path” to Capture Ultimate Customers

  1. I would definitely like to experience success on the A-Path. Sounds like it’s easier said than done. As A newbie, I have a group of individuals on Twitter, mostly internet marketing & health/wealth targets. Although I’m still figuring out the Twitter relationship, prospect & team player.. I feel the more I go through certain trials on the internet, the more I can give advice or value on the basics of internet marketing. Everyone seems to have a wealth of knowledge and resources before hand. Finding out exactly where my followers hang out can be a puzzle
    also. Any more suggestions?
    Faith Ansah

  2. Faith –

    Excellent question. I think you touch on a few important things …

    1) I don’t see Twitter as the vehicle to capture ulitimate customers using the A-Path – it is definitely a needed PART of an integrated approach, but you will not INITIALLY get advocates using Twitter – at least not until you have accomplished perception as a subject matter expert.
    2) You are using the Internet (and social media) learning the relationships in Twitter (and I hope other social media tools). As you are learning this you are giving advice on the basics on Internet marketing. At this point, I would say you are still in the “Listen” and “Conversation” part of what I call the LCR mentality (covered in a few more recent posts of mine). If your goal is to be an Internet Marketing consultant giving advice, I would not work to develop relationships with prospects yet, unless you are ready to be their subject matter expert. You can develop relationships with your teachers, coaches, mentors in the Interenet and social media context, but you only get one chance to make a first impression and if you are not ready to make a most positive impression to drive your prospects to have Affinity for you, be your Audience, be your Advocate, wait until your are ready.

    I will post a follow up to this A-Path article in a few days that touches on more detail of execution considerations to work the A-Path using Twitter and other social media tools. I’ll talk about using Twitter integrated with other tools. I’ll let you know when this article is available.

    Best and good luck,
    Social Steve

  3. Pingback: Executable Game Plan for Winning Ultimate Customers with Social Media « SocialSteve's Blog

  4. Pingback: Practicing What I Preach in Social Media « SocialSteve's Blog

  5. Fantastic articles. Just getting into this stuff. I’m developing an app, just about to launch a prototype and hopefully soon to follow would be my phase one or mvp. When do I start educating my customer base on the specifics of my product? When is it too early or too late in relation to when there will be a product out for them to accrual access and interact with? Again, many thanks. This info is incredibly helpful.
    Adam

    • Adam – think about working with a select handful of early adopters. Win them over by building a relationship and letting them know they are getting the first access and really have the opportunity to shape the product future. Listen and learn how they might use the product and aim to solve their problems – not just yours. Good luck!

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