Are you familiar with hope based marketing? Those marketing plans where you take out an ad and hope it gets seen. Once it's seen you hope they go to your website or visit your store. Once they visit your website or store you hope they buy from you. You're excited for the sale but now you're hoping for the next one.
I'm not a big believer in hope as a marketing plan. Why? I believe the best customers are those you develop relationships with, not blast with information until they are exhausted enough to buy. Having a customer once is nice but imagine having a customer for life because you developed a relationship with them. Even better, imagine your customer now recommending your business to everyone they know because you took the time to develop that relationship.
I was fortunate enough to listen to Gary Vaynerchuk (@GaryVee) speak at HubSpot 2012 in a keynote speech titled Care Immensely or Die: This Is A Bigger Culture Shift Than You Realize. As you may have guessed the focus was on caring about your customers and people in general. People assume Social Media is impersonal. The truth is, it's only impersonal if you make it that way. Your Social Media campaigns are not about you, they are about connecting with people. Show people you care. Engage them in conversation. Listen to what they are saying. If done properly, Social Media should be about enhancing existing relationships and creating new ones.
Avoid The Hope Based Marketing Plan
The first thing I do when someone follows me on Twitter is check out their profile and see if they have mentioned anyone. If all of the previous tweets are about them, I know I'm not interested. If I want information about their business I'll visit their website. If I see actual engagement and conversation with people, I will follow.
The same goes for Facebook. I'm often amazed by how many businesses post something on Facebook and don't interact when people comment. What's the point? People are leaving comments and giving your business an opportunity to communicate with them and you don't respond? Is that developing relationships or does it tell you the business is really only interested in themselves?
Here are a few ways your business can develop relationships and move away from hope based marketing:
- Get Rid Useless Ad Campaigns: The picture in this article is what I arrived to when I boarded my Amtrak train. Amtrak, the credit card company, or both, thought it would be a good idea to cover the seats with a flyer. If the marketing plan was for me to remember them, it worked. I won't forget them but unfortunately, it's a negative memory. Those who have scramble for a seat on the train can appreciate not wanting something one your seat when you arrive. I'm sure they spent a lot of money on this. I'm also sure the return was minimal IF not zero.
- SPAM E-mails: At the end of each week I clean out my inbox and have my e-mails down to zero. At this very moment, I have 52 e-mails in my inbox. Do you really think a generic e-mail blast is going to get through to me? If anything I'm likely to be more annoyed and eventually unsubscribe. If you're collecting e-mail addresses, track why they gave it to you. This will allow you to follow up with an e-mail based on their specific needs instead of generic e-mails that will annoy people. If you can do this properly you will see an increase how many people read your e-mails and business.
- Reward Your Current Clients: How many ads have you seen for "new customers only". Why are you rewarding people you have no relationship with and punishing those who have been loyal to you. Doesn't that seem backwards? When I introduce this concept I'm often met with resistance but it doesn't make sense to me. Why not reward your current clients? What about putting out an offer and saying "Current or returning customers only"? That would turn some heads!
- Social is Social: It's called Social Media for a reason, it's Social. Regardless of what Social Network you're using, be social. If you want Social Media to "work" for you, it must be done properly. Not sure what to say? Comment on someones post or article. Retweet something you thought was interesting. It's that simple. Be genuine and let your personality come through.
I tell all of our clients the same thing: If you're doing something that's working for you, don't change it. The challenge most clients face is tracking what is working and what is not. Hoping people find your business isn't good enough. It's time for you to take control and develop relationships with customers that will help your business grow.