As you probably remember, relationships build the first pillar of Internet Marketing for Smart People.
After all: no relationship, no market, right? We need to have some kind of connection with folks before they’ll pull out their wallets.
Sometimes people think that great relationships “just happen.” It’s your mom’s theory of marketing — “just be yourself and everyone will love you.”
But you might have figured out by now: no one loves you like your mom does. And just being yourself sometimes needs a little help.
Here are five strategic ways you can think about building the kinds of relationships that lead to sales, as well as to retweets, recommendations, and referrals for the great stuff you sell.
We human beings are rather simple at heart. If you do nice things for us, we tend to like you more.
Fancy marketing types who have read their Robert Cialdini (and you should join them, by the way) call it reciprocity, even though Cialdini himself actually calls it reciprocation.
But the concept is too much a part of our DNA to need a fancy term. Basically it’s:
Do nice stuff for me and I will want to do
nice stuff for you in return.
In particular, there’s a type of content that will repay your generosity many, many times over. It’s what Frank Kern calls “results in advance” content — a tip, trick, or tutorial that lets your reader get a desirable result in her life before she gives you any money.
So if you’ve got a wonderful home study course on how to raise naked mole rats for fun and profit, your “results in advance” content might be “5 Things to Look Out For When Choosing a Naked Mole Rat at the Pet Store.” That content would tell people how to take home a chubby, healthy, happy naked mole rat rather than a weak, sickly one that’s just going to have problems.
If your reader can put your advice into practice and get a great result, you’ve given her a delicious “free sample.” It greatly increases the chances that she’s going to want more, now that she’s experienced for herself how good it is.
One of the most powerful marketing messages you can send is “I’m a lot like you.”
I’ll give you an example. I don’t have a lot of faith that weight loss tips from the latest hot supermodel are going to do me any good. I’m not 6’ tall, I’m not built like a gazelle, and I don’t think I have the discipline to live on 4 potato chips and a skim-milk latte per day.
But weight loss tips from Janeane Garofalo? I’m a lot more interested. Because she starts out looking a lot more like I do, I have more confidence that her advice will be something I can use.
One of the most overlooked sales objections is:
“Probably everyone else can make that work,
but it won’t work for me.”
Most of us have such lousy self-esteem that we’re willing to concede that the diet, the money-making strategy, the stock tip, the parenting advice will work for most humans on the planet — but not us.
The more you can get your reader to relate to you, to feel like he’s basically like you, the better chance you have of communicating, “Hey, if it worked for me, it will totally work for you.”
That’s why, even though you don’t want to undermine your authority (we’ll talk about that in a few minutes), you also don’t want to puff yourself up to be some kind of superhero.
Or if you are a superhero, be one with a really dorky alter ego, like Peter Parker, not a billionaire playboy like Bruce Wayne.
There are two primary ways to get attention.
- You can do tons of great stuff for people, make yourself useful, be incredibly nice and friendly, and maybe crack a joke from time to time.
- You can make a belligerent, loud, annoying pain in the ass of yourself.
They both work — if your goal is to get attention.
If your goal is to convert attention into customers,
#1 has a lot of advantages.
Some people have a gift for drawing attention to themselves by being spectacular jackasses. And that can work, actually — if you’re a likeable jackass.
It tends not to work too well (commercially, anyway) if you’re just an ass.
Dave Navarro made a great analogy when I interviewed him recently for a Third Tribe Marketing seminar on email copywriting.
He talked about the marketer who only emails around launch time as being like your annoying relative who only calls when he wants money.
What’s your emotional reaction when that deadbeat cousin calls? You roll your eyes and let it go straight to voice mail, right?
If you’re building relationships by providing valuable content, the best way to do it is to keep it slow and steady.
Show up. Day in, day out.
Create a steady, predictable rhythm with your content, whether it’s your blog, your email newsletter, your podcast, whatever. Keep giving that high-quality free content, delivering those results in advance, and letting everyone know you’re a good egg.
A nice, predictable frequency also demonstrates that you’re reliable. If you show up every day (or every week, or every other week) on your blog, predictable as clockwork, your audience gets the sense that you probably won’t skip to Costa Rica as soon as they’ve sent you PayPal funds for your new consulting package.
Bloggers are often excellent at letting their audiences know they care, that they’re good people, that they share the same problems as their readers.
Sometimes they’re not so good at actually demonstrating that they know what they’re talking about.
Worse, they often think that the call to be “transparent and authentic” is an open invitation to show off as much dirty laundry as possible.
Good: A blog post about how you went from design klutz to design wizard.
Bad: An endless stream of Twitter tweets about how badly you’re blowing your clients’ deadlines because you’re just not in the mood to fire up Photoshop today.
Transparency is not the same thing as oversharing.
A certain amount of talking about your cat or your kid or your funky apartment can be good for bonding. And selectively talking about your insecurities can do great things; no one likes someone who’s too perfect.
But blathering about your bad habits and body fluids is just . . . well . . . off-putting.
I hope it goes without saying that bashing other bloggers for the sake of getting attention is a “success limiting maneuver.”
Constructive, legitimate criticism is fine. But being a professional hater is just lame.
It can work (a little) in the short-term, because negativity attracts attention. But bashing someone just to have someone to bash turns you into a jerk and a whiner. And anyway, there are too many nasty people on the web — it doesn’t actually make you stand out.
Your homework for this week
Take a look at the content you’re producing (email, blog, twitter, Facebook, special report, whatever) and see how many of these relationship builders you can include. Could you squeeze in all five?
Which of these do you think you’re strongest at? Do more of it — build on that strength.
And if there’s one of these relationship builders that’s a little out of your comfort zone, schedule some time to create a message around it before the end of this week. Your customer relationships will thank you for it.
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