One of the great results from connections is finding that someone else has arrived at the same destination from a different direction. Nurture Marketing is the brainchild of Judy Schramm, CEO at ProResource. I work with a group of entrepreneurs that have developed a similar philosophy which we call Nurture Marketing 2.0. The main focus of both our concepts is how to personally connect in a digital world. The goal is to develop mutually satisfying relationships based on trust. Here is how our approach works…
First, you have to work at it everyday. Yes I know, the digital world wants instant accomplishment. With social media as the new source for connections we think that all we have to do is set up a profile and invite people to visit our websites and somehow, magically the products and services are sold. Nice try! Valuable relationships are still produced by consistent effort over time.
Imagine your approach as a set of stairs with enough room for two people on the same step. Building a trusting relationship looks like climbing the staircase together. Before you start to climb . . .
· Prepare and Research. Prepare an honest, professional representation of who you are and what you do, because your profile makes the very important first impression. Then, research. Get to know the person that you are contacting. Read their profile and get a sense of who they are and their interests. Decide whether both of you may benefit from the connection.
· Step One: Permission. Send a professional introduction and invitation to connect. Accompany the invite with a message commenting on their profile, something that caught your interest. Keep it short and positive. You are asking for permission to continue a conversation. If they accept the invite, picture the two of you occupying the first step on the staircase.
· Step Two: Beginning the Conversation. Your response is based on their response. Talk with the people that are interested in talking with you. Thank them for accepting your invitation and ask a question about what they do or an interest that they have listed on their profile. Make it open-ended and friendly, not personal.
· Step Three: Genuine Discussion. Continue the thread of the conversation and give them a concise piece of information about what you do or share a particular challenge that you have encountered. Look for a need, want, or desire, basically some part of their life that is a challenge. Are they looking for options? Begin to analyze whether you have a solution or does their expertise offer a solution for you. Remember, a genuine connection can work both ways.
· Step Four: Building Trust. Now you can ask questions based on the information that they have given you and you can begin to develop mutual solutions. Usually, this is the step where an appointment is made to chat. An invitation to connect on Skype or over coffee is appropriate. Be prepared to answer questions and allow the conversation to be about their needs and how you can help them. Be a good listener and provide honest solutions. Remember, effective marketing for the long term is still based on relationships of mutual trust.
The rest of the staircase involves time, patience, listening and providing the parts of the solution one at a time – in other words, Nurture Marketing. Regardless of the technology we use, we are still on this planet to make friends and to serve them. That marketing strategy never changes.
Laura Like is the owner of likemychoices.biz. Since 1999, she has been developing online communities for some large companies, and helping entrepreneur-minded individuals to transition from employment to ownership.
After you meet someone for the first time, you’ll walk away knowing the person’s name and maybe a tidbit or two. Every time you connect with that person you’ll learn more, and that helps you decide whether that person is trustworthy and credible. Those connections, known as touches or impressions, can be an email, a newsletter, a phone call, a meeting, a direct tweet, etc.
Rarely will anyone buy on the first, second or third touch. The sales funnel requires nurturing before prospects trust them enough to buy. This brings up one of the more commonly asked questions: “What’s the average number of touches it takes to turn a prospect into a customer?”
Search the Internet and books about marketing, and you’ll find answers ranging from 5 to 20+ touches. The number that pops up most is seven. Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s “Rule of Seven” states that you must contact your buyers a minimum of seven times in an 18-month period for them to remember you. Jay Abraham also cites seven as the number of times you have to contact someone and ask for a sale before you get a “yes.”
However, the number of touches isn’t the only factor that matters. Three other factors are important.
The first is the quality of your touches. Prospects need to know certain standard things. Are you providing the information they need to make an educated buying decision? They won’t be comfortable enough to do business with you until you’ve answered the following questions:
- Is the problem they have one that you can solve?
- How does your solution work?
- What are they going to have to do before you can start? What else will be expected from them?
- How much is it going to cost?
- What results can they expect? How long will it take to see results?
- Who else like them have you helped? What other kinds of proof do you have that it works?
You should also answer common questions and straighten out misconceptions people often have. You can do that all proactively in your touches.
When you provide this information in your touches, you’re more likely to convert people into customers. And you’ll do it much faster than someone whose touches are all the “buy my stuff” type.
The second factor that impacts the number of touches you need is the cost of your product. A business-to-business (B2B) company that sells services that start at $10,000 has a longer sales cycle and needs more touches than a business-to-consumer (B2C) company selling $10 products.
The third factor that affects the number of touches is the level of awareness and interest. If they have given you permission to send them information and have genuine interest, then it will take fewer touches than reaching out to people who don’t know you and haven’t expressed interest. In this case, you need get on their radar first – that requires more touches.
To sum up, to calculate the number of touches you need, start with your target market and price point. Know that you need a minimum of seven touches and calculate upwards from there based on how much information you need to convey. When you show that you understand their problem and give them the information they need to make a buying decision, your company earns their trust and gains credibility. That’s what delivers the sale.
What’s one way to create a powerful touch? Have you found that it takes an X amount of touches to make the sale?
You’ve been invited to another networking event. How do you feel about it? Do you dread the thought of approaching people, delivering your 30-second elevator speech and making conversation? Are you out of questions to ask once you get an answer to “What do you do?”
For some, networking feels as uncomfortable as making cold calls. Cold calling means contacting potential prospects (i.e., strangers) to see if they can use your product or service. Networking, on the other hand, is supposed to be about getting to know each other. Yet many believe it has turned into another form of cold calling.
Networking has gained a bad reputation because some do the following:
- Drone on about their business for over 10 minutes.
- Give away business cards indiscriminately, as if trying to break their previous record.
- Collect business cards like baseball cards.
- Send you promotional and newsletter emails without asking if you have any interest.
You’d never do that, right?
Let’s reframe what networking should be, whether done online, at a conference or at a tradeshow. Look at networking as a way to meet people and forge new relationships. Before you go, think “I’m going to meet interesting people and start building relationships.”
Does that erase or ease the anxiety? Does it change your approach to one that makes you more comfortable?
Here’s another way to think about how to make networking work for you. You’re going to an event. How do you want someone to approach you? What do you like? Don’t like? Use the answer to these questions to prepare how you talk to others online and in-person. Yes, that’s “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” in action.
Business cards still matter, but treat them as a tool to extend the relationship and take it the next level. Get to know others first and leave the conversation with a reason for a follow up.
- “I have an email newsletter that provides tips about XYZ. May I send it to you?”
- “You might like the white paper on XYZ. May I email it to you?”
- “We’re having a free webinar about XYZ where you can learn … May I follow up with the details?”
- “I’d like to stay in touch. May we connect in social media?”
What bothers you about networking? What other ways can you make networking easier, more enjoyable and more effective?
What are some of the best ways to do that?
We usually keep it simple – just say:
Thought you’d be interested in this…
I was reading this and thought of you.
Have you seen this yet? I thought it was interesting.
If you are forwarding the blog post because of a recent conversation you had with them, mention that.
If you saw them share something similar on social media, tell them that.
If they recently wrote their own blog post on a related topic, mention that. They’ll be flattered that you are keeping up with their blog.
You can also try to engage them in a conversation. You can do that in a global way:
Do you think something like this could ever work at your company?
Or mention a specific concept or data point:
Can you believe they actually invested $50 billion in this?
But keep in mind that your main goal with sharing content is to let them know you were thinking about them, that you are paying attention to what matters to them and sharing useful information. You don’t want it to feel like you are assigning them tasks or giving them more work to do.
What are your best tips for sharing other people’s content?
Obviously, you can read over their profile and see what they are doing now, how long they have been there, where they have worked in the past, where they went to school, and what groups they belong to.
You can get their email address.
You can see who they are connected to, and you can see what connections you have in common.
Most people have links to their blog and website.
You can see how active they are on the site, whether they are connecting regularly with new people and posting updates.
If they have the apps enabled, you might be able to see what they are reading, what trips they have planned, what events they are attending, and what presentations they have uploaded to Slideshare.
That’s already a ridiculous amount of information.
If you want more, do quick searches in Updates and Answers.
Then go into a couple of their groups, find them in the Members section and look at their recent activity and discussions.
You will have a much richer picture of what interests and appeals to them, what they are trying to find out, what they are proud of, what is worrying them. That’s information you can use to help them and connect with them at a deeper level.
What are your best tips for information gathering on LinkedIn?