Imagine for a moment that your business has to sell its product or services without ever interacting directly with the prospect…
No phone calls.
No visits to the showroom.
No personal emails.
Would your business survive? More importantly, if you constrained your sales process to that requirement, how might your marketing be different? Think about it for a minute… Would any of your marketing in its current form still be effective?
Online marketers have to sell to a prospect without ever seeing, talking to, or even interacting with that potential customer; in my opinion, they’re the best marketers out there. Now, what if you do have the opportunity to sit down with your prospects? If you can master the elements that great online marketers use AND you have the benefit of dealing with someone one-on-one, your sales process is going to be way ahead of your competition.
With that in mind, I’ve noticed Internet marketers, more than anyone else, use a technique I’ve dubbed “Conversational Marketing.” In essence, you write your marketing piece as if you were sitting down right next to the person talking. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing an email, a direct mail piece, or creating a website, conversational marketing strikes a deeper cord with your audience.
So first off, why is conversational marketing better than “normal” marketing?
- It’s easier to read
- It encourages people to keep reading
- It’s designed to lead someone to a desired result Step-by-Step
- It builds trust and rapport
- It’s actually easier to write and create
So how do we start using Conversational Marketing in everything our customers will ever see? Let’s assume you’re working on a business website… The simplest way to use Conversational Marketing is to take your current face-to-face sales pitch and put it in writing. That’s it. Whatever closes the highest percentage of deals needs to be in writing on your website and ideally in a video as well. Keep in mind, that if you really do need a face-to-face meeting to provide a custom solution to your customer, then the sales pitch on your website is going to be your best pitch for them contacting you NOT your sales pitch for them actually purchasing a solution. That will still have to be face-to-face.
Probably the most important aspect of effective Conversational Marketing is defining your target customer. In other words, what is the customer sitting on the other end of the computer, direct mail piece, yellow page ad, TV, Radio, Newspaper or other medium like? You need a picture of your buyer in your head. For instance, Trader Joe’s defines their target customer as an “unemployed college professor who drives a very, very used Volvo.” Did you get a picture of that in your head? Does each revenue stream in your business have such a crisp picture of your target customer? To take this one step further, your goal is to be able to write in a way that it sounds to the reader like he’s talking to himself. Does that make sense?
Consider the following common marketing examples and tell me which sounds more like the way you talk?
“Act now!” OR “Make the commitment now and get this problem off of your plate.”
“But wait, there’s more.” OR “By now I hope you can see that we’ve offered some great deals for you. However, there are a few more things we’d like to share.”
“We have the best deals in town.” OR “You already know other people offer a “similar” service. For instance, Joe’s will charge you X which doesn’t even include A,B, or C.”
“Our customer service is excellent.” OR “Here’s an idea of what some of our customers think of our service. <insert testimonials>”
Are you starting to get the picture? The “common” marketing words are so hackneyed that we all instantly recognize them and immediately close-off. We know each phrase translates to – someone is trying to sell me something. And we don’t want anyone to sell us anything. We want to CHOOSE the best option for ourselves.
At this point you’re saying… That’s fine and good, BUT I don’t have room for all of that on a direct-mail postcard, 30 second radio ad, 60 second TV spot, Yellow Page ad, or any other form or marketing besides a direct mail letter or my website.
That’s exactly right! So unless any of those forms of media provide enough information to sell someone on the idea of contacting you, then you should probably be using that media to point them toward your website where you can address all of these things. Obviously you will still provide your phone number and address in case they are ready to take the next step.
Beyond that, if you make a conscious effort to start marketing conversationally, you’ll be amazed at what you can fit inside any of the standard marketing mediums. One of my marketing teachers told me that when putting together a headline for any marketing copy he used to take his top 3-4 headlines and ask his friends at the bar which one was good. If they told him they really liked them or they were very good he threw them away. After all, everyone is going to say that. Instead, when they said, “Is that really true?”, he knew he had a winner. That’s a great way to institute conversational marketing into your shorter marketing mediums.
Finally, this is all about a one-on-one relationship. Earlier I stated that your best website takes your face-to-face sales pitch and puts it into words and video. A crucial point in being personal is to include a salutation with your name and title. The bottom of your web page, and every other type of marketing where it can fit, should have a salutation just like a personal letter. Remember, people buy from people, NOT from businesses. The obvious exception would be TV/video since you are addressing them directly and personally.
You’re starting to see this “personal relationship” idea reach big companies with Google marketing videos usually telling you which Google employee in which department is talking with you. Tom Anderson, founder of Myspace, also made sure he was the first friend for all new accounts. Smaller companies like Batchbook.com and 37Signals.com are even better at introducing you to the people helping you when you need help. The biggest challenge for large companies is that they have 100 people in customer service, product development, R&D, and marketing so they can’t be personal. Their weakness at not being personal should be your advantage. DON’T EMULATE FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES BY MAKING IMPERSONAL MARKETING OR AN IMPERSONAL WEBSITE. Make your website extremely personal so you can set yourself apart. Don’t be afraid to use your status as a small business to your advantage! Obviously if you have a lot of turnover, then you need to think through how you’ll do this effectively. Also, don’t ever sign off as, or put, “owner” on your business card. If you ever want your business to run without you, training your customers to expect to hear from the owner is a step in the wrong direction.
To your Conversational Marketing success, Bryan
P.S. In my next few blogs I’ll be going more in depth on using this type of marketing on websites and other online medium including providing example websites.