Earn the Right to have a Conversation with Potential Customers

You’re at dinner with your friends enjoying wine, laughing over funny stories, waiting for your meal. Suddenly a random person comes to sit at your table. They act as if they know you and before you can start a conversation with them, they begin talking about themselves – who they are, where they grew up, what accomplishments they have and why you should listen to them. Who does that? Lots of companies do.

Often times, companies become so focused on beating the competition that they their marketing becomes a constant “beating my chest” type of marketing that boasts how much better they are than their competitors and they overlook the “P” left out in business school, the person.

In today’s information age, consumers are overwhelmed with information that instead of making it about you, you’ve got to first, make it about them. What value will they get from listening to you?

In the industry I’m in, B2B Tech, we’re selling highly complex solutions which requires highly sophisticated conversations. The biggest part of our job as marketers is educating. We are selling cutting edge technology that you cannot see or touch. However, at the end of the day, we are selling to humans. So what is the secret sauce? Well first, I don’t have really any secrets but if I were asked for advice, I would focus on these things.

Make friends

Humans become friends based on commonalities. They speak the same language and share the same interests. To make friends, we’ve got to learn more about the person and discover what it is that you have that can relate to them – this is developing the buyer persona.

Before we begin a marketing campaign, we do the persona research. After we’ve defined whom we want to target, we find those people, buy them some coffee (or tacos if you’re in San Antonio) and talk to them for a couple of hours. Let them own the conversation, you just guide it. What do they value, fear? What annoys them? What is their reputation at work and at home? You need to know all of this before you can develop a message that resonates with them. And make sure you are talking to your target person, not someone who thinks they know your target person.

Get invited into their house

Here’s where I think many marketers miss. After we’ve developed the message and value proposition, we cannot think that by posting to our website, our friends will find it. Remember, these people already have their own lives and daily habits. Our friends are already in their own communities, talking about things they love with people they care about. Go to them – don’t expect them to show up at your door. Find the websites they visit, go to the social networks they’re part of, attend the meet ups they’re at. Go where they are comfortable going.

Bring a gift

Once you get to their community, provide value. This is where content plays a huge role. Educate the audience on what you know about the subjects they care about. Develop interesting, compelling, educational content that is NOT about you. For example, in my industry, we sell hosting. Do you think that I am going to go to the market and talk about SSD hard drives, Gigs of RAM, or firewalls and load balancers? No. If the person cares about their retail site, I am going to talk about the best practices for keeping their shopping cart online so they don’t risk losing revenue. If they care about getting more downloads of their mobile app, I am going to talk about innovations in mobile technologies.

Find a way to be of value to your friends without using your product/service.

Say thank you

Now you have the right to begin talking about your products and services because you now understand the problems they are trying to solve. Give them an offer that is appropriate for them. Customize it to their needs. Don’t be generic. Sometimes you may have four buyer personas where you are selling the exact same thing but you sell it tailored to the needs of the buyer.

What I went over is just the top of the funnel  (Awareness/Consideration). I see many marketers jump directly into Purchase (talking about their product and price) and completely miss the person. There is a whole another strategy once you get into Purchase which I did not cover here.

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