Friday, March 05, 2010

 

How to reach and influence prospects (the Chris Brogan way)

If you're still trying to figure out social media (how it applies to you and your business, how you convert social media activity into business results and revenue), I highly recommend paying closer attention to Chris Brogan. He's on the cutting edge, keeps things highly customer-centric, and does a nice job bringing everything back to what's going to be a win-win for both sides of every customer-business relationship (including the all important "how you make money from all of this").

His new book Social Media 101 is a fantastic primer for anybody looking for new ways to leverage the social Web to build credibility, community and audience attraction online.

Below, with permission, is an excerpt from Chris's new book. This segment focuses on how to reach & influence prospects.

How to Reach and Influence Prospects

We talk about how social media like blogs and podcasts and social networks will help us grow our business, yet we are hampered in several ways. Some of our customers won’t provide testimonials. Others will take a while to actually execute a project. Still others have stumbled onto your site, and it’s up to you to keep them. Let’s talk about these prospects first.

WHO ARE YOUR PROSPECTS?

There are, of course, tons of ways to think about who your potential customers might be. David Meerman Scott talks often about buyer personas as a way to better understand those you’re hoping to reach. In my examples that follow, I’ve picked only three types of prospective new customers. You have many other people interacting with your media, and it’s up to you to balance your efforts such that they align with the relationships you need. Here are three prospect examples.

Private Customer: In the example cited here, GirlPie’s customers don’t really want to refer her. This means she has a private customer. You could say that SEO and search marketing professionals often have private customers as well. In these cases, your audience doesn’t want to tout your skills, because they don’t want to admit their prior weakness, or they may have other reasons to stay quiet.

Newcomer Customer: Some of us have customers from larger companies who are very new. They’ve been tasked with adopting an online strategy, or a social media marketing plan, or something like this. These customers are browsing the Web, grazing through keynote searches, and hoping to gather enough information to convince their senior team that they understand enough to make some starter moves. This audience will recommend you, but only after they’ve launched their project (and sometimes that’s along while after you could have used their recommendation).

Clean Slate Customer: Several people find their way to your site by way of search. Perhaps you rank high in Google for blog topics (that’s my constant number one search term), so someone searching for topics for their blog will land on your site and wonder what to do next. In this case, these potential customers might need a bit more content and guidance before they become actual prospects (and remember, we’re talking business in this post, not community or other reasons for doing social media).

REACHING THESE PROSPECTS

In all three of the aforementioned cases, different tools will have a different impact. Here are some suggestions:

Private customers. Consider an e-mail newsletter with discrete information that reinforces your benefits. In that newsletter, encourage forwarding. E-mail is much more intimate than a blog setting. Consider a private online pay forum that allows for anonymity, if that’s also useful.

Newcomer customers. Along with your media posts (blogs, podcasts, etc.), create specific-to-their-industry informational documents (or recordings or presentations), with an eye toward empowering your contacts with information that will convince their senior team to take action.

Clean slate customers. In many ways, the simple answer here is to provide great content that’s useful, evocative, and invites further inquiry. From there, if you see any responses that match your business offerings, reach out. Send an e-mail. There’s no harm in exploring a potential business relationship, should you see signs that a person has a need you can help fulfill.

You’ll note that I didn’t mention social networks much in this instance. The way I use social networks is to build relationships. I do any business prospecting by way of the media I create. I’m on the networks to connect, to be helpful, and to learn new things. Hopefully, that distinction makes sense.

BUSINESS ISN’T EVIL

The social Web has enabled all kinds of new opportunities to communicate. Business and sales are just one portion of a large spectrum of ways we connect and transact. As with everything you and I talk about here, it comes down to clarity of purpose. If you’re selling something, state it. If you’re looking for customers, talk about it. If you’re there to educate, that’s fine, too. They’re your tools. Use them the way you want. Just be clear and open about it. What’s your thinking on all this? Have I identified your prospect type here? If not, tell me in the comments at http://chrisbrogan.com/comments-from-101, and we can open the question to the community. What’s your thinking?

Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley and Sons from Social Media 101; Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online. Copyright (c) 2010 by Chris Brogan.


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