This was requested by GirlPie
We talk about how social media like blogs and podcasts and social networks will help us grow our business, and yet, there are several ways in which we’re hampered. Some of our customers won’t provide testimonials. Others will take a while to actually execute a project. Still others have stumbled onto your site, and it’s up to you to keep them. Let’s talk about these prospects, first.
Who Are Your Prospects?
There are, of course, tons of ways to think about who your potential customers might be. David Meerman Scott talks often about buyer personas as a way to better understand who you’re hoping to reach. And in my examples below, I’ve only picked three types of prospective new customers. You have many other people interacting with your media, and it’s up to you to balance your efforts such that they align with the relationships you need.
Here are three prospect type examples:
In the example GirlPie provided, her customers don’t really want to refer her. This means she has a Private Customer. You could say that SEO and search marketing professional often have Private Customers as well. In these cases, your audience doesn’t want to tout your skills, because they don’t want to admit their prior weakness, or have other reasons to stay quiet.
Some of us have customers from larger companies who are very new. They’ve been tasked with adopting an online strategy, or a social media marketing plan, or something like this. These customers are browsing the web, grazing through keynote searches, and hoping to gather enough information to convince their senior team that they understand enough to make some starter moves. This audience will recommend you, but only after they’ve launched their project (and sometimes that’s a long while after you could’ve used their recommendation).
Clean Slate Customer
Several people find their way to your site by way of search. Perhaps you rank high in Google for blog topics (that’s my constant #1 search term), and so someone searching for topics for their blog will land on your site, and wonder what to do next. In these cases, these potential customers might need a bit more content and guidance before they become actual prospects (and remember, we’re talking business in this post, not community and other reasons to do social media).
Reaching These Prospects
In all three cases mentioned above, different tools will have a different impact. Here are some suggestions:
- Private Customers – consider an email newsletter with discrete information that reinforces your benefits. In that newsletter, encourage forwarding. Email is much more intimate than a blog setting. Consider a private online pay forum that allows for anonymity, if that’s also useful.
- Newcomer Customers – along with your media posts (blogs or podcasts or the like), create specific-to-their-industry informational documents (or recordings or presentations), with an eye towards empowering your contact with information that will convince their senior team to take action.
- Clean Slate Customers – In many ways, the simple answer here is to provide great content that’s useful, evocative, and invites further inquiry. From there, if you see any responses that match your business offerings, reach out. Send an email. There’s no harm in exploring a potential business relationship, should you see signs that a person has a need you can help fulfill.
You’ll note that I didn’t mention social networks much in this instance. The way I use social networks is to build relationships. I do any business prospecting by way of the media I create. I’m on the networks to connect, to be helpful, and to learn new things. Hopefully, that distinction makes sense. If not, ask me to define that better, and I will.
Business Isn’t Evil
The social web has enabled all kinds of new opportunities to communicate. Business and sales are just one portion of a large spectrum of ways we connect and transact. As with everything you and I talk about here, it comes down to clarity of purpose. If you’re selling something, state it. If you’re looking for customers, talk about it. If you’re there to educate, that’s fine, too. They’re YOUR tools. Use them the way you want. Just be clear and open about it.
What’s your thinking on all this? Have I identified your prospect type here? If not, tell me in the comments, and we can open the question up to the community. What’s your thinking?
The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.
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Photo credit, Jurvetson