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Relationships

How often have you walked in a shop, only to feel pressured into buying something you didn’t really want?  Perhaps you were at a restaurant, and the waiter actually sits down at your table, introduces himself, and asks for your order?

Or maybe you found yourself in the position I was in at a Danier Leather store late last year, with my two-month-old leather overcoat that had a piece of leather that had separated.  “Sir, you may leave your coat here, and we will send it to our head office for inspection.  They will determine if it even is a defect, and how much you would have to pay for repairs.”

In all three scenarios, there is a serious abuse of trust.  The high pressure salesperson doesn’t even try to earn it.  The waiter presumes too much.  And the clerk from Danier Leather did a great job destroying it. Trust is so slowly built, and so easily lost.  Why, then, do we persist in following the conventional digital marketing “wisdom” of ignoring these basics?

Back in 1999, I recall working on an ecommerce site which required registration to even look at the catalog.  While this Costco-esque strategy did seem to provide an aura of exclusivity, it quickly lost its luster when I pointed out that potential customers might actually want to browse before buying.  Hidden within this browsing behavior, however, was an even more important activity:  trust-building.  Without trust, you have not yet earned the right to ask for the sale.

Today, we see digital marketing techniques (such as “squeeze-page”) that also presume too much:  How many sites have you seen that exhort the reader to “Sign up for our promotional newsletter, and we’ll give you a free ebook.”

Unfortunately, this approach is completely backwards:  the marketer is asking for something – your contact details – without earning the right to do so.  Even worse, they are trying to bribe you (the so-called ethical bribe) to participate!  If the goal is to build trust, the “transaction” must be completely different: First give, then get.

1) Give the ebook away without requiring the “payment” of information.  This earns trust.

2) Get them to subscribe.  If they are interested (eg if they have qualified themselves as a prospect), ask them to sign up to receive more.  The higher the value, the more that the marketer can ask for: low value – email only.  Medium value – contact information and a few demographic qualifying questions.  Super high value – perhaps a credit card number.

No matter the currency paid, many digital marketers miss a critical third step.

3) Only send them what you have promised.

If you promised them a monthly newsletter, don’t send sales pitches.  If you promised event invitations, don’t send them the newsletter.  Promise-keepers build trust – and earn the right to ask.

This week’s action plan: Look at your website, and particularly your “free” offers: are you asking for payment upfront, or do you let users browse?  This week, build trust into your website by giving first, killing your squeeze pages, and seeing whether your content truly has value.  If it does, the user will let you know, loud and clear.

Marketing insight:  For a balanced approach, consider the example at www.108ideaspace.com/technology/social-crm.  Instead of a squeeze page that promises everything and gives nothing, this page flips the equation around:

  • One paragraph intro:  If the person is interested in the value of this descriptive paragraph, they will begin reading the white paper itself, found conveniently below.
  • White paper:  The user can read the white paper online (or rather, one third of it) without paying with their contact details.
  • Web form:  Since they’ve already consumed a substantial sample of the actual content, they are now in a position to judge whether reading the remainder is worth it or not. The initial stages of trust have been built.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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Most people have a LinkedIn profile.  And most people understand the importance that relationships play in building a business, making a sale, or getting the job.  But most people are mystified when it comes to using Social Media (and LinkedIn in particular) pro-actively.

Of course, there are active strategies that are a play on content marketing: putting something “out there” in the hope that a person or organization will happen upon that content (or happen upon your profile), and then reach out to make contact.   Examples of this include creating a robust profile filled with keywords, periodically sending out new status updates, or contributing meaningfully within LinkedIn groups.

If you are doing these things, then you are fertilizing the soil, but not planting any seeds. To grow business, you need strategies that are even more pro-active.  Here are six of them:

1) Before you meet anyone in the real world, search for them on LinkedIn. If you have very little time, doing this will expose at least some of their background.  And when you do meet, you can ask them about common connections.  If you have more time, call the common connections first; you’ll not only strengthen that relationship, but you’ll arm yourself with invaluable intelligence for your meeting.

2) Check on who is viewing your profile.  Reach out and say hello, asking them about their interest in you.  You can offer to send some more background, or perhaps schedule a short phone conversation. Hint:  See who you know in common, and reach out to them first.

3) Groups:  After developing a reputation in a LinkedIn group as a contributor, ask another contributor if they wish to get together for a short phone meeting or a  coffee.

4) Third party introduction:  Review the connections of one person that you know well at a “target” company, and ask if they could help set up a coffee meeting with a specific individual on their connections list.  After the coffee meeting, ask that individual if you can be connected within LinkedIn.

5) Improve your 1st degree relationships. Review all of your connections; compile a list of people that you don’t know that well, and reach out to each of them for either a phone call or in-person meeting.

6) Comments:  Instead of a generic comment on someone’s post, ask directly if you can “connect” in the real world. Sometimes a simple “can we connect over the phone?”  will work wonders.

What is the common thread between each of these pro-active prospecting strategies?  Each one aims to transform an online relationship to a real world one.  Whether you are looking to close a deal or get a new job, most people will not commit without spending real time together.

This Week’s Action Plan:  If you’ve already made the investment in a Social Media profile, and you’ve made the investment in learning how Social Media works, it’s now time to get a return on this investment.  This week, leave the passive world behind, and execute at least one of these active  prospecting strategies.

Marketing insight:  The Relationship Curve suggests that a sale is not made without first moving through awareness, preference, then trial.  These prospecting strategies are all designed to move people from one stage, into another.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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Access Assumptions

by Randall Craig January 17, 2012

One Billion.  You may think I’m referring to the number of Facebook and LinkedIn users, but I’m not.  I’m referring to the approximate population of India. While on a trip there, I decided to take pictures of local businesses, then compare the “real” with their Social Media presence.  Sadly, I was unable to find more […]

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Are you a Social Media addict?

by Randall Craig November 16, 2011

Have you ever been “captured” by an activity, finding it almost impossible to let go? Marathon runners call it the runner’s high. Smokers call it an addiction. But what is it called when you can’t tear yourself from Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or other social networks? If it is part of your job, then some would […]

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Trust Takes Time

by Randall Craig November 3, 2011

How long does it take to make a sale?  And is it faster using traditional marketing and sales techniques, or Social Media-based ones? In traditional marketing and sales, advertising informs prospective customers about a product or service. Those who have a need show up and make their purchase. In the more sophisticated business-to-business sales process, […]

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Multi-snacking

by Randall Craig January 19, 2011

When was the last time you ever gave anything (or anyone) your 100% complete, undivided attention?  If you’re like most people – and you’re honest – it was probably a long, long, time ago.  The question is why. As intelligent, capable, and busy people, we have trained ourselves to handle… as much as we can […]

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Multi-snacking

by Randall Craig January 18, 2011

When was the last time you ever gave anything (or anyone) your 100% complete, undivided attention?  If you’re like most people – and you’re honest – it was probably a long, long, time ago.  The question is why. As intelligent, capable, and busy people, we have trained ourselves to handle… as much as we can […]

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Network Strength

by Randall Craig November 10, 2010

How powerful is your network? Or rather, how do you make your network even more powerful than it already is? Try these four strategies: 1) Go Wide: Get more people onto your network list. This is often done at networking events. 2) Go for Quality: Get “better”, more relevant people onto your list. This is […]

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Don’t Feed the Monster

by Randall Craig October 28, 2010

Have you ever found yourself in an email argument with someone? Or a flamewar, where there is a public, angry disagreement between you and someone else that goes on without end? If so, you’re not alone. Each minute that is spent is both agitating and unproductive, so it behooves us to extricate ourselves from the […]

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Who’s your Charlie?

by Randall Craig September 1, 2010

One of the most productive ways to see a country, especially where you don’t speak the language, is to hire a private guide. You get an insider’s perspective, a translator, and a driver all rolled into one. And if you are lucky enough to have a tour guide like Charlie, then you might also learn […]

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Follower, Friend, or Family?

by Randall Craig June 30, 2010

There is an important hierarchy in the real world when we think of our relationships with others. At one end of the spectrum are those nameless individuals we see on the street, while at the other end are those closest to us – usually our immediate family. And in between, there are many more: (People […]

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Report on Business Television

by Randall Craig November 20, 2006

Earlier today, I was at Report on Business Television, taping a few segments for some upcoming shows. In between, I spent time chatting with the host, Anne Gaviola. I made an off-hand remark that she must meet a number of fascinating guests; her reply impressed me. She said that indeed that she did meet many […]

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Light the Fire

by Randall Craig October 31, 2006

While camping, a group of four friends – all managers – were talking about teamwork. As the evening wore on, it became colder, and each person went to put on a warm jacket and a hat – except the fourth: he went scavenging for wood. After thirty minutes, he came back, wood in arms, and […]

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