INFORMATION IS THE PRESENT;
CONNECTION IS THE FUTURE
C.J. Hayden, MCC
consumers are primarily interested in today are not features, but
— Harry Beckwith, Selling the Invisible
many times already today has someone tried to sell you something?
The ads come in by email, snail mail, fax, radio, magazines, newspapers,
TV, and your web browser; the salespeople write you, call you, and
approach you in the store or showroom. Are you even listening any
more? How often do you actually buy something because someone you
didn't know tried to sell it to you?
Your clients -- consumers and businesses alike
-- are just like you. They are not only fed up with hype, most of
the time they don't even see it. Overwhelmed with communications,
they tune out the vast majority of the marketing messages they are
presented with just in order to get through their day. After attending
a race plastered with Coca-Cola logos, a survey revealed that only
a third of the attendees could remember who was the sponsor.
"A weekday edition of The New York Times
contains more information than the average person was likely to
come across in a lifetime in 17th century England."
— R.S. Wurman, Information Anxiety
Making information available to your clients is
still important, so don't throw out your brochures or take
down your web site. But with so many communications arriving all
the time, your clients want control over how and when they receive
your information. More than ever before people want to do business
with people they know, like, and trust.
With a service business, what you are really marketing
is you, not the service. When you are the product, your customers
need to know who you are. They want to feel a connection with you
and know that they can trust you before they will consider doing
business with you.
"Beleaguered by e-mail spam and intrusive
pop-up ads on the Internet, consumers are using the "delete"
button with increasing frequency and losing confidence in other
traditional forms of advertising as well... Consumers rank word-of-mouth
recommendations from others as the most trusted form of advertising."
According to psychologists, a primary motivational
factor for human behavior is affiliation, defined as "the
desire to establish and maintain warm and friendly relations with
others." We are naturally drawn toward experiences where affiliation
is possible, and avoid situations where it is not.
we receive a recommendation from someone we are already affiliated
with, we believe that following that recommendation will continue
the positive experience. If we think developing an affiliation is possible
with someone new because they have approached us in a warm and friendly
way, we are encouraged to establish a new relationship, whether
it is personal or business.
the amount of information presented increasing, mass marketing campaigns
become less effective... One-to-one marketing will not just be a
possibility, it will be a necessity."
Easton Consultants, Information Overload
Establishing a one-to-one connection with your
prospective customers can begin with projecting the warm and friendly
image that encourages affiliation. Make yourself available for contact
and conversation that isn't necessarily leading directly to
a sale. Encourage word of mouth by developing and keeping in touch
with a network of current and former clients, colleagues, competitors,
referral partners, and influential people.
Focus on providing information to clients in objective,
rather than promotional ways. A recent study found that a commercial
web site scored 27% higher in "usability" by visitors
when written in an objective style (sharing information) instead
of a promotional style (singing the company's praises). You
can carry this principle off line by writing helpful articles and
giving talks in preference to sending brochures and making cold
Participate in your client community as a peer
by attending conferences, seminars, fundraisers, and other educational
and social events. On the web, frequent discussion lists, forums,
and other online communities. When you read articles and posts,
take a moment to post your comments to the author where other visitors
can see them.
Prospective buyers name newsletters, weblogs, and
other forms of opt-in, reader-friendly communications as one of
their most trusted sources of information about products and services.
As well as publishing one yourself, it pays to be mentioned in someone
to know the influentials...invite them in and engage them in a conversation...Most
are local community leaders, or have real involvement in their communities,
and as such are the nodes of wide personal networks. They are the
people ... to whom others look for advice or counsel."
-- Edward Keller & Jonathan Berry, The Influentials
you engage in a community, people begin to know you from the words
of others instead of from your words alone. You can even create
your own community by starting an affinity group or business network,
launching a discussion list, hosting an online forum or live conference,
adding commenting features to your web site, posting reader responses
in your newsletter, and much more.
real key is to begin connecting in person with the population you want
to reach, instead of relying on promotion and selling to bring them
to you and make them want to buy.
© 2003, C.J. Hayden
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COMMENTS FROM OUR READERS
"You've really summarized the keys to becoming the 'trusted advisor' instead of the
salesperson -- well done!"
— James L. Watson, Presentations that Stick, Cape Elizabeth, ME
"I just read an article of yours titled "Information is the Present; Connection is the Future."
I enjoyed it and appreciate you sharing. This has prompted me to go out and purchase your book."
— Harley Steele, CreateLoyalClients.com, Norfolk, VA