Have you ever been desperate for more business? Have you ever watched the bank account dropping low and suddenly, you do some quick envelope math and realize that things are going to crash hard if you don’t get something sold soon? It’s a horrible feeling.
At times like this is where we think a mix of our worst thoughts and our best crazy ideas. It’s also when you start reconsidering those marketing ideas you had been putting off. And finally, it’s where you start looking for silver bullets to cure all your marketing and sales problems. And that’s when you turn to things like social media. Sound familiar?
Put Down the Gun
Like anything you want to do for your business, rushing into social media and online channel development to fix a crisis gap in your sales isn’t really going to work well. You’ll come off as too salesy and you’ll risk alienating people right out of the gate. If you buy your way into a larger following on any of the online services, you’ll get what you paid for: transients who really don’t care about what you’re doing. If you want to develop the human digital channel for improving your online efforts to attract sales and/or membership, put down the gun and start developing a longer battle plan.
Planting Seeds and Foraging for Food
Probably the easiest way to think about it is that if you want to develop online sales and business, you’re going to be planting seeds. That means you have to nurture and water and weed and all that before you get a yield. If you’re hungry today, then you’ll have to forage for business while you wait for this online work to take effect. How long? That’s an “it depends,” but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect some business transactions within the first three months of work. If that feels too long for you, then you’re most likely in a transactional business and don’t want repeat customers and relationship-based clients. That’s okay. Just accept that and move away from these tools.
What Are You Willing to Tackle?
First, decide what you’re willing to do to warm up more customers online. If you’re just going to send out blurts and updates and coupons and the like, then you can probably just “set it and forget it” and see if something comes of it. If, instead, you’re interested in creating information that helps people decide upon a purchase, or that gives them an even better appreciation of the space where the customer uses the product or service you offer, then you might find this whole online human digital channel stuff interesting. The idea is to help prospects learn more about you, equip them to purchase, give them more value than what they’re paying for, and to be able to warmly encourage referrals. A side opportunity is to listen for customer service issues as they arise, but we’ll talk about that another time.
The Longer Yield
As you invest some time in developing a digital channel, maybe through creating compelling email newsletter, by writing and posting useful content on your website or blog, and by exchanging conversations with potential prospects, partners, and others on the various social networks, you’ll find that these efforts will yield leads, prospects, clients, and customers who are retained for longer. The goal with building relationship-based selling is to make this effort pay off over the longer haul, and you will. However, don’t gauge or judge your results by the shorter term, or this work will all be for naught.
To wrap this up, realize that when you’re frustrated or have to hurry a sale, the digital channel isn’t likely your best set of tools, unless you don’t mind burning your potential community. While there are no silver bullets, you’ll find that time spent growing your digital channel will help you over the long haul. So what’s keeping you from starting today?