Which would you prefer: a blind date or a night out with an old flame? Chances are the old flame will be more fun because you can relax with the familiarity you share. First dates can be tedious as each person tries to assess the other person’s knowledge of axe wielding or fluffy toys (both equally as scary). Breaking the ice is difficult. If it were easy it would be called ‘breathing the air’ or ‘cutting the cheese’.
Doing business is the same. Sifting through a prospect’s ego to find their true nature can be time consuming and costly, especially if you get it wrong. It works the other way, too. Try putting yourself in your prospect’s shoes. They are about to spend their hard-earned money on your services and want to know that you can deliver. They need to trust you, but they can’t until they like you, and they can’t like you until they know you.
Trust is the goal, but we have to know and like first. This is ‘getting to second base’, which I call The Julie Andrews Principle.
So, how do we enter into a business relationship from second base? It mostly involves things unrelated to business. It’s about the personal stuff: what we do on the weekend, what we find funny, whether they still live with their parents, etc.
These are some of the techniques Julie would employ to get to the ‘like’ stage in the relationship if she were in business.
FACT: Most people will do business with someone they know, even if they don’t like the service.
For the first time in history we have a vehicle that lets us communicate and market ourselves in a passive way, i.e. people listen to you if they want. This is so much nicer than the interruption model, where ads are blasted at you between snippets of content. When people can choose whether to listen to you, it’s much easier to build rapport with them. I can’t say I’ve ever felt endeared to the Rugs-a-Million guy. In fact, I’d love him to accidentally run into a lump of wood I just happened to be carrying.
The other difference with social media is that your conversations are not limited to work related things. Mixing in some of your personal life can be good. It helps build familiarity. When you are considering doing business with someone, just like before a first date, you Google them to find out as much as you can before it’s too late (see fluffy toys from paragraph one). So, it’s important that your online profile communicates the correct message.
What does your online profile look like? One of our project managers has a shirt that says ‘I Google myself’. Jokes aside, he actually does. Why? Because it’s important to ensure your message on the web is true. What comes up when a prospect searches for you or your company on the Internet? They should be able to find examples of your work, expertise, testimonials, photos (good ones, not drunk in a chicken suit), and gain a feel for who you are.
We usually share our wins, losses and challenges with close friends over lunch or a game of golf, but otherwise rarely. These are the things that make our friends, well, friends. The information you share sets them apart from others and creates a level of trust that enables you to do business instantly and skip all the cautious getting-to-know-you time.
Sharing things that happen on a day-to-day basis, both professionally and personally helps you build your profile online. This is where social media comes in. You can share information with the whole world and, if anyone’s interested, they’ll listen.
Social media marketing doesn’t appear as a number on your balance sheet, which makes it a little hard to justify, however, a strong social media presence will have the following effects:
It makes sense. Marketing evolved when television was invented and now it is evolving again to take advantage of this fantastic new medium. It’s passive and not-so shouty.Posted by Chris Garrett on 6 August 2009