What do you think of when you hear the word “marketing?”
Does your brain fill with thoughts of “sales” and “squeeze” pages, opt-in mailing lists, bait content, lead generation, lead nurturing, the sales funnel, the sales continuum, branding, personas, social strategy, audience building, content development, vertical niches, market trends, competitive analysis, traffic analytics, SEO, SEM, PPC, CPC, ROI?
Do you even know what those things are? Does the thought of them give you a case of vertigo?
If all that marketing-ese makes your head spin and your heart pound, I have good news for you. It’s not that complicated. Marketing is just making friends. You know how to make friends, right?
Amidst all the technical, psychological, and sociological trappings of modern marketing, one constant remains true: people buy from people they like. Think about your own buying decisions. Whether it’s a local baker who chats with you about your shared interest in musical theatre while you’re picking out your dinner rolls, or the international brand that supports a cause that is close to your heart, your buying decisions almost always include a “likeability” factor along with other, more tangible things like product quality, availability, and price.
“Sure,” you say, “I get that, but how can I apply it to my own marketing?”
Start by putting those dehumanizing sales funnel images out of your head for a minute. They have their place, but – let’s be honest – there’s nothing friendly about sucking someone into a giant funnel. Instead, think about how you make a new personal friend. There are dozens of ways, but one scenario might go something like this:
- Hang out in the same places
- Know some of the same people
- Say “hi”
- Connect directly (maybe online through Facebook or LinkedIn)
- Share coffee
- Invite the person to a group event
- Get together – just the two of you – to get to know each other better
Here’s how that might translate into Real World marketing:
- Visit the same coffee shop
- Have some of the same acquaintances – maybe the barista or a fellow patron
- Make small talk in the line waiting for your java
- Decide, after a few chance meetings, to exchange contact info
- Share a table and more conversation – this time more about what you both do
- Invite the person to a local event – a business talk, fundraiser, school event, cultural happening
- Get together to talk about a project or how your services might help your new friend
And here’s how it might look online:
- Read the same blogs, participate in the same forums, belong to the same LinkedIn or Facebook groups
- Have some common friends, followers, or connections on various social networks
- Engage in some dialog – maybe in the comments section of a blog or through a retweet on Twitter
- Friend/follow/connect/subscribe to each other
- Share more in-depth information – maybe through an E-book, E-mail exchange, or some combination
- Invite the person to participate in a group event – webinar, teleclass, etc.
- Get together one-on-one to work on a project
Is it making sense? Not so scary when you think about it that way, right?
Now, there are endless variables and mutations on the process and the actual conversations, but this basic “flow” is a pretty good place to start thinking about how you might create your own natural marketing groove. I’ll dive more deeply into details and techniques in a future post, but – for now – I’d love to know how this concept makes you feel about your own marketing challenges.
Image Credit: Dave Gilbert