Here’s a slightly personal question…
You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on the first date, would you?
You’d at least share a Cafe Latte with that special someone before making any major proposals. Then, you might follow up your coffee encounter with a romantic dinner. And on it would go. You would make the time to demonstrate your value and build trust.
So, why is it that so many business owners start the conversation by asking strangers to “buy, buy, buy”? Why is it that so many service professionals waste so much of their time bleating the following seven words? “Contact us for a no obligation quote!”
Before a customer or client can become just that (a customer or client!), there’s a process. They must be taken on a journey… from a Stranger… to a Suspect… to a Prospect… to a Customer. Click here to unlock the full report >>
Here’s a cryptic question…
Why is your favourite celebrity chef rich and famous?
Is it because they are the best cooks in the world?
Probably not. Are they the most outgoing or charismatic? That’s questionable too. Here’s a simple answer… They are rich and famous because they give away their recipes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
And how do we respond? We buy their cookbooks and branded saucepans or pay top-dollar for their private services. However, most people in business do they opposite.
They believe that the ‘margin is in the mystery’. (If I don’t tell you how I do what I do, I can charge you more.) But this mindset is now truly obsolete.
Almost every mystery is already available as a free YouTube video or download. That information is only relevant at the Prospect stage. Brochures and demonstration materials are not helpful for the acquisition of Leads.
In fact, the wrong content, delivered at the wrong time, can do more harm than good. Simply ensure that your content was devised to solve a problem, and ‘be the cure’! This strategy has three main benefits… Content marketing existed well before the advent of the internet. Marketing legend Jay Abraham referred to the practice as ‘pre-selling’.
He understood, decades ago, that the surest way to build trust is to help people through education. Content marketing existed well before the advent of the internet. Marketing legend Jay Abraham referred to the practice as ‘pre-selling’.
He understood, decades ago, that the surest way to build trust is to help people through education. Content marketing leverages a psychological principle called Reciprocity.
Reciprocity simply means that when you give away something of high-perceived value, the recipient is likely to feel a psychological urge to give you something of even greater value in return.
Content marketing feels great!
When your efforts are designed to help prospective customers and clients, not only do you build trust and goodwill. But it becomes personally rewarding to watch your efforts make a positive impact on the lives of others.
STRATEGY #2: BUSINESS CARDS 2.0
Business cards and networking go hand in glove, right? They’re like peas and carrots. Peaches and cream. Mork and Mindy. You can’t have one without the other? Or can you? More and more often, established business operators (CEOs and senior decision makers) are opting to ditch the business card.
Young networkers are doing the same. The inference here is that cards are for ambulance-chasers, desperadoes and powerless members of middle- management.
The other implied statement goes something like this: “If you are unable to connect with me through other means (such as shared contacts and social media), you don’t deserve to connect with me.”
This simple act, in the right circumstances, has the power to immediately position the cardless renegade as ‘The Prize’ by forcing new contacts to do a little ‘work’ to secure the contact. Alternatively, however, if executed poorly, it can make the empty-handed recalcitrant appear obnoxious and even amateurish or unprofessional, at best.
What’s a calling card? It’s something that provides your new contact with a reason to call on you and, in some cases, it provides your new contact with a tool to refer you to their contacts.
My business card features nothing other than a logo and URL. I explain that the simple link leads to a short educational video and a set of tools.
This way, I don’t appear rude but also demonstrate that I don’t give my details to ‘just anyone’.
STRATEGY #3: WORD-OF-MOUTH… AMPLIFIED
Most average businesses only focus on the first type… the target audience. I’m talking about the end user, the person or organisation who will directly benefit from using your product or service.
Of course, every business needs to understand the end- user. This is essential. But that’s where most organisations begin and end.
They don’t think beyond that audience. Most good businesses also recognises the need to focus on the second type… the potential investor or buyer, the person or organisation who will help you scale up or buy you out when you are ready.
The qualities that an investor or buyer looks for in a business are good qualities to have. They want to know that the business is pro table, has multiple revenue streams, is sustainable and doesn’t overly depend on key-players (like the founder).
That’s why it always pays to think about what an investor or buyer would want from your business and, then, structure the business that way. So, who’s the third customer? This is where average or good businesses become great.
They realise that a third customer exists that can accelerate their growth by helping them overcome the need to source Leads or prospect potential customers and clients, one person at a time.
This third customer is… drum roll please… your partners, your resellers, the media.
I’m talking about any organisation with the reach to amplify what you have to over well beyond your own circle of influence.
In other words, I’m talking about Word-Of-Mouth amplified. Why market your audience to one customer or client at a time when you can leverage the reach of others through Joint Ventures, Strategic Alliances and Marketing partnerships.
STRATEGY #4: THE LINKEDIN WELCOME MAT
Here’s a less cryptic question… When building a network of contacts on LinkedIn, what do you think is more important? Quality or quantity?
Which option do you think is more likely to assist you with the growth of your business? The quality of your contacts? Or the quantity of your contacts on LinkedIn? Most people immediately answer, “Quality, of course.”
Quality is obviously important. But is it more important that quantity? Let me ask some additional questions… Have you heard of the 500 effect on LinkedIn?
This simply refers to the amount of contacts a LinkedIn member has and a set of unexpected benefits that happen when a user surpasses 500 contacts, and earns the ‘500+’ badge from LinkedIn.
Before a user has 500, LinkedIn will share the exact number of contacts they have as part of their profile. If they have 498 contacts, that’s what will appear next to the user’s name in their profile.
But, once they surpass 500, LinkedIn will only show a badge that says, ‘500+’. This has proven to have positive consequences… more inbound enquiries, more positive responses when a Contact request is made and, generally, a greater influx of opportunities.
This makes sense. If someone visits your profile, only to discover that you have, say, 300 contacts, the assumption is that you can’t be very in influential, that you are not open to opportunities and that your value to the potential contact through second degree connections is limited.
Until you reach 500, quantity may, indeed, be more important than quality. Also, the average user on LinkedIn has 500 contacts.
The average CEO has 900. That means that if you have 500 contacts, and if your contacts also have 500 contacts, your extended reach through second degree connections becomes 250,000.
Quarter of a million! Most organisations start local, with ambitions to enter other geographic regions… eventually. And this heavily in influences their lead acquisition and customer acquisition strategies.
However, in a digital world distance is no longer a barrier. If you work in a service based industry, tell me if this sounds familiar… You receive an inbound enquiry.
Personally, I receive unsolicited meeting requests all the time. “James, I’d love to buy you a coffee and pick your brain?” At another phase in my life, this coffee meeting would have been the first step toward onboarding these Prospects and converting them into clients.
I would get in my car and drive to the venue and find parking. (That’s 45 minutes.) Then, we would get to know each other and discuss options. (That’s another 45-60 minutes.) Then, I would return to my car and drive back to the office, before starting on my proposal. (Another 45 minutes.)
Today, I don’t have time for coffee meetings. Rather, I share my value through the dissemination of gifts. The rapport building is completed online, through the use of recorded webinars and podcasts, in the absence of me.
The preselling and objections are also tackled at that time, once again, sans yours truly.
Then, when it’s time to chat, this can be conducted using GotoMeeting, online, in real time. (Plus, with GotoMeeting HD Faces, I can see the expressions of Prospects as we walk through the options.)
I limit these conversations to 30 minutes.
Aside from the time-saving benefits, this structure has also helped me acquire new customers and clients from almost every continent on earth. Once again, distance.