Most entrepreneurs learn the 5 Ps of Marketing early in the game: Product, Price, Place, Promotion and People. We are told that these are the five marketing levers that satisfy customers and build market share.
What competitors can’t copy is a company’s Perspective. Perspective (or issues ownership) becomes important in a commoditized industry where it may be difficult to differentiate your company from competitors. Perspective is the sixth marketing P. It is one part intelligence (ideas, trends, insights), one part emotion (values, ideals). It’s the discussion that happens alongside the product. If you want to create a lasting marketing edge, the first step is to define your company’s Perspective. Then, communicate that Perspective to the people that matter.
So, how do you get your Perspective heard by the people you want to listen? Communication is critical. New online channels – like blogs, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter – have emerged that are more conducive to constant, direct engagement with customers and prospects. You need to “SELL” yourself:
Start by listening: Establish who you want your targets to be. Who are your customers, prospects and competitors? Listen to what your targets have to say and look for idea “gaps” that need to be plugged? This could be opportunities for tips and other “do it yourself” advice for the consumers of your service.
Establish common interests: Create several composite friends that “flesh out” who you’ll be interacting with. If you are a hip new hair salon whose primary target audience is Gen X and Y females, find out where they are engaging online and what are they talking about. You may decide the “mommy blogger” community is a sensible place for you to engage. Get acquainted with what they care — and don’t care — about, particularly look for triggers for commentary and sharing.
Look for favors after you’ve earned credibility: Decide what you want your friends to do. If you are a restaurant, do you want your friend to subscribe to your restaurant’s blog? Recommend your online promotion to a friend? Typical beginner’s mistake = thinking that “we want them to buy stuff.” Continue to converse about ideas, stories and links that have nothing to do with your business.
Love your audience, especially when they are not in sync with you: If you receive a nasty tweet or blog comment, similar to what you would do if you got an angry customer phone call, stop and think, “Why did I get this reaction?” And then ask, “Can I improve my value proposition so this doesn’t happen again?” If can’t answer these questions yourself – ASK. More often than not, the disgruntled contact will be willing to share constructive feedback; they feel listened to, cared about and appreciated. Build on your “lessons learned” to create even better thought leadership in your industry that deepens your new relationships.
Engagement represents a sort of business marketing nirvana: the ability to develop an ongoing, mutually beneficial dialogue with your clients, customers and prospects. It’s just a matter of recognizing how to leverage that opportunity.
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