Every week Cazbah Internet Marketing Consultants get together for something called “Whiteboard Friday”. Whiteboard Friday is put on by Moz. This regular Friday event is an opportunity for us to learn together and discuss what we see happening with our Cazbah clients.
One episode that has suck with me was titled “The best way to suck at marketing” An interesting title for sure. The primary focus of this discussion was how companies often see their customers as transactions, not potential long term relationships.
It’s high time small businesses adopt inbound marketing methods to attract and create long term customers!
The Long Haul
I have been with Cazbah for over 10 years now and have seen a lot of successful companies and, in spite of some of our best advice, I have seen some not so successful companies. When I first came to Cazbah, the internet was still young enough where a company could put up a simple transactional website with a lot of product information and make some money. It was all about the sale. That doesn’t work anymore.
So, what has changed and why?
Broadly, web culture is vastly different that it was 20 years ago or even 5 years ago.
Sales, and especially the web, has made a fundamental attention shift towards customer driven marketing techniques (or inbound marketing) rather than focusing on the seller. Through the years we’ve seen several Google Algorithm updates to make search results more effective, changed sales approaches, and top level priority of content production.
The internet has been optimized for the user, helping them get the information they’re seeking with increasing ease. The better laid out and comprehensive a website’s content, the better your ranking on SERPs.
Informative content and thorough web design let’s a searcher know they’re a priority and that your focus as a business is to meet their needs, not just sell them a product. Inbound marketing studies have shown that customers are more responsive and dedicated when a salesperson shows genuine interest in the customers personal success.
However, many small businesses are still focused on the “now”, the sale or conversion, without giving much thought to years down the road. For small businesses to establish themselves, they need to produce loyal customers who will continue to do business with them. Customer driven marketing shifts the view of a customers as a dollar sign, to a developing relationship.
3 Inbound Marketing Methods to Connect With Customers
Since inbound marketing is all about the customer, it pay’s to have a little background in psychology. You need to know how your prospects and customers will perceive, understand, and engage with your website, your content, and your business within your whole marketing and sales funnel.
So, here are 3 secrets you can use to better connect with your prospects and customers:
1. Give to Get
If you give something to someone, they’ll feel obligated to give something back to you. This is basic human nature. Think about it, a neighbor gives you a surprise gift around the holidays, suddenly you find yourself rushing to the store to buy something for them as well. This principle may seem manipulative, but not if it’s done under the right circumstances.
This “give to get” inbound marketing method is especially useful in inbound marketing to gain a prospect’s trust. If you provide great content, products, and services to your perspective clients, they’re more likely to give you their loyal patronage for years to come.
As a small business, you need to be willing to make the first move and give something away before you can expect a prospect to give you something. They don’t trust you yet, so you need to show them that you’re worthy.
Have a helpful blog on your website, offer a free e-book, give out your business contact information freely etc. Make yourself and your business open, friendly, and willing to give to your future customers.
You may think it’s just a numbers game, but business is actually all about emotion.
Why do customers stay loyal to a company or a specific brand for years? It may be because of a great price or good service, but a larger reason is because the customer feels connected to that specific business, a relationship has been formed over the years.
Companies who use emotional marketing tactics in their advertising and content marketing campaigns set the stage to attract life long customers through memorable product jingles (“…I’d like to buy the world a Coke…”), strong marketing messages (“built Ford tough”), or passionate stories (the Budweiser Clydesdale).
Not only are these marketing messages entertaining for target audiences, but they connect with them as well.
Emotional marketing methods put the company and their target audience on the same level and helps to eliminate the barrier of “us vs them”. Humans need connection to survive, so give them something to connect to in your business!
Brand and business loyalty is a two-way street in business. Your customers will only stay committed to your business and products if you’re committed to providing them with the best products and high quality service, and vice versa.
If someone doesn’t hold up their end of the commitment cycle, it breaks down and you lose a paying customer. However, once a prospect converts to a customer, make sure not to abuse their commitment to your brand. Don’t bombard them with pesky emails they don’t request and don’t call them irregularly out of the blue.
But, there are ways you can balance customer commitment and use it to build your business at the same time.
For example, if you provide a specific service to your clients, have regular, scheduled calls with them to make sure everything is running smoothly and address any questions or concerns they have. If you’re a retailer of some sort, consider offering a frequent shopper discount card or discount referral program (this will encourage customers to continue to buy from you and increase your brand awareness as well).
By giving your customers incentives to stay with you, they’ll be more likely to do so because they’ll see that they’re getting something out of the deal as well.
So in the end, what does this mean for companies who want to do business online?
It means you better bring the knowledge of your industry and great customer service to your website, or you will be left on the scrap heap of failed online businesses. It means that you need to stop thinking of your customers as a series of transactions and investing in inbound marketing methods to deepen and grow your relationships with your prospects and customers.
In parting I will leave you with this compelling quote:
“What is love in business? Love is a matter of sharing your knowledge, your network of relationships, and your compassion – or any combination of the three.” – Tim Sanders – Love Is The Killer App
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