Always create value for your customer. It's a great starting point. It's succinct and straightforward -- until you start trying to do just that. What does your customer value? Who is your customer? How do you get their attention in the first place?
But, hang on; isn't this all about trying to make a sale anyway? It is, sort of, but not quite, although eventually. Look at it this way: your business needs attention before it can make a sale. It needs eyeballs on the screen and feet tromping through that front door. Sometimes your customers do the work for you. They want whatever you're offering so much that they'll take the initiative and hunt you down. If that's your situation, congratulations. Your product or service is so in-demand, or your discoverability gap is so small, that you're drawing traffic despite yourself.
If you're like most people, however, you need to create a reason for your customer to bestow their valuable attention on you. You also need to be where they are in the first place.
Start at the top. Who's your ideal customer? Who spends the most money on your goods or services and costs you the least in time, money, or emotional energy? That's the person you want to connect with. Now look for commonalities. What do those people have in common? A stage of life? An age range? A physical location? Gender? Economic or educational status? Hobbies or interests? Build a profile of your ideal customer, focusing on who they are and what they care about.
Once you know who they are, you can find a way to offer something they'll appreciate. Maybe it's information, an emotional experience, or entertainment. People like sales and discounts, but don't just jump straight to that. Remember, you're drawing attention at first, not closing a deal. You're in a social space, not a market. You're building awareness, visibility, social credit.
Always give first before you ask for something.
Social media is huge for making connections. Go back to your customer profile. Where do they spend time? Facebook? Instagram? A subject-specific site based on shared interests? That's where you need to be with your engaging content. It can be paid or organic; preferably it’s both. You can head out into the real world too, but depending on your ideal customer, it may be harder and more expensive to put yourself in a place where you can connect easily with them in physical space.
Ideally, you want to provide value for your customer at every stage of their interaction with you in order to motivate them. So, the first time they encounter you, you want to offer an experience they appreciate. But you don't want to spend all your time creating and sharing engaging content. You want to make a sale, so you need to narrow the focus with a marketing funnel.
Not everyone you engaged initially will remember you or follow up. But as you continue to engage and strategically move potential customers toward an action, those who do come along with you are more invested, more interested, and more likely to take the action toward which you're guiding them. It may take several value-add encounters before they recognize and trust you, so don't get too impatient.
You'll start your marketing funnel at its widest end on social media, fishing for potential customers. Offer something of value to them that also aligns with what you can offer later. But don't give it away too quickly; ask for interaction beyond simple engagement with a post. Have visitors follow a link or take action like subscribing or reposting to get the valued content you're offering. That could be in the form of extended and exclusive content, such as a whitepaper, ebook, or A/V content.
At this stage, you can start including clear call-to-action items on the landing page or in the midst of the content you've drawn people to via social media. A time-restricted sale, discount, or another incentive here can encourage immediate action. The action may not be direct sale. It may be collecting email or network subscriptions, or encouraging a direct contact for a conversation.
You're now directly marketing your services to customers, but remember: at every stage, first provide value to the customers. Entertain. Offer information or an experience.
Think about the shape of a funnel. That narrow point: that's what you want - an action, a sale, or subscription. That broad end: that's your opportunity to reach many people, to make your brand stand out by offering them something they want or need. Rather than inverting your funnel and trying to snag customers too soon and pull them toward your services, you want to cast the net wide. Make an impression and have them voluntarily, even eagerly, take steps toward your goals by choosing to interact with your business and services after you've established them as appealing and valuable.
You have an unprecedented opportunity to connect with the specific people likely to spend money on what you have to offer. Put your customer first by creating value for them at every step of their journey from social media to your business and help them take advantage of what you have to offer.
Originally published 02/22/18.