The direct approach can appear to be the best option. Which is why so many businesses still cold call prospective customers. I was talking to a business owner yesterday and I asked her how she attracted new clients. “I pick up the phone and try to get a meeting,” she said. “OK,” I replied, “who are you calling?”
“I usually work my way through a directory,” she responded. Oh dear, I thought. She must be able to handle a considerable amount of rejection. The challenge with this approach is that she is starting without any relationship at all, with the person she is trying to get through to. Therefore, this is an extreme example of ‘push marketing’. Another example would be the knock at your front door in the evening, from someone representing a company you have never heard of, trying to sell you double glazing (are you keen to let them into your house?)
A shared connection on LinkedIn, a brief discussion at a networking meeting or a conference, or an exchange of messages (via email or the social web) would at least give the caller something to start the conversation with.
Professor Robert Cialdini lists six forms of influence, within his book ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’ (well worth reading). They are: Scarcity, Liking, Commitment and Consistency, Authority, Social Proof, Reciprocity. How many are you using, I wonder?
Use your promotional mix consistently
With regards to consistency, having chosen your promotional mix – stick with it. Send a newsletter out at least once a month. Blog on a regular basis (i.e. once a week). Login to your favourite social media places and post something / respond to people every day. If you are going to advertise, do so regularly (as one off adverts don’t work). If you belong to a networking group: show up. If you are a member of The Marketing Compass, login and ask (or answer) a marketing question, connect with other members by visiting their profiles and clicking ‘Add Friend’ and attend one of our events.
Fast moving consumer goods companies know that if they give away free samples, people will be tempted to change brands. What can you give away for free? Some advice, via a phone call or a consultative meeting? An e-book or report? Something else?
Talk to the media
A highly effective way of reaching and influencing new customers is PR (Press Relations), or as I now prefer to call it MR (Media Relations – on the basis that the media is going digital). The Marketing Compass is about to launch a national PR campaign and I will be blogging about this over the coming months. (I ran a PR consultancy business for nine years, so this is a subject which is close to my heart!)
We have received several phone calls recently, from business owners who are asking about The Marketing Compass. “How did you find us?” we ask. “Oh, your name just keeps popping up,” they reply. This is the power of influence – which you can apply to your business, no matter what size it is, how busy you are or how much cash you have in the bank. It is a matter of focusing on the right areas and applying proven marketing principles, in order to reach more customers.
Here is Robert Cialdini’s website: www.influenceatwork.com
You can follow Professor Cialdini on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/RobertCialdini
Follow The Marketing Compass on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/marketingcmpass
Follow Nigel Temple on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/nigeltemple
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