Over the weekend, I had a conversation with my Twitter friend Ashley Lauren Perez about the aggressive telemarketing techniques of a service brand I respect and to which I subscribe. Ashley had recently canceled her subscription to the brand in question for reasons unrelated to the quality of the service. What followed, according to Ashley, is a series of daily marketing phone calls badgering her to come back to the service. It’s having the opposite effect on Ashley and her sharing the experience on Twitter is affecting the way I feel about the brand as well.
This is not the 1980s
Three decades ago, marketing and sales were very different. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say the tools available to marketers and sales people were different. Mass direct mail campaigns and phone campaigns were so annoying that they spawned the need for “do not call” lists. Of course, there also were the obnoxious fax campaigns. Thank goodness those have died.
That was then and this is now, so let’s move into the 1990s. Yes, permission based and inbound marketing have been around since the 90s, so I’m not asking you to try something totally new and innovative here. I’m also not saying script-based cold calling and constant barrage techniques like my friend Ashley is being subjected to don’t work. Instead, I’m suggesting there is a more human way to approach the sales and marketing cycle. It’s an approach that will result in raving fans that will never want to leave you; even when they have to for short periods of time.
Stop buying lists and start creating a community
Quality content and engagement drive a community. Creating content is hard work that never ends; but so is picking up the phone Monday morning and cold calling all week. It’s a matter of how you choose to spend your time. We make sales-related phone calls in all my business ventures. However, we are calling the folks after we’ve established a relationship with them some other way.
Try building your community (list) like this:
- Have an opt-in email newsletter: At one of my companies, this list is almost sure to generate short-term sales when we need them. But you shouldn’t go to the well too many times with pure marketing. Share useful content too.
- Reach out personally after shows and conferences: When folks have shared their business card with you at a trade show, it is okay to reach out with a personal phone call or email. It’s also okay to ask if they’d like to be added to your opt-in email list; but if they say no, they mean no. Respect their email and voicemail inboxes the same way you’d like yours to be respected.
- Identify your raving fans: As your community grows, those who love what you do and spread the word to others will separate themselves from the masses. Treat these folks as special, because they are doing the same for you. They should get VIP treatment and first notification of any special offers or events you are hosting.
Yes, word-of-mouth marketing does work
This site and my other sites have visitors because you help spread the word and share posts that you find worthwhile. Sure, search engines help too; but search engines look at how many people are already visiting when they decide how high to rank you in the results. It’s folks like you reading to the end of posts like this that ultimately become raving fans.
Over time you’ll come to realize you have a list of referrals and other sales leads that you did nothing to directly generate. Instead, you spent time building a community that recognized you as providing useful information in your subject area. In turn, those folks will spread the word for you, and slowly but surely people will began to seek you out. What you’ve created is a referral engine. Like any other tool, when it is properly maintained it will generate business for the rest of your life.
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