Make Friends First
One of the marketing concepts that I keep repeating for businesses is that you need to think of your marketing beyond getting awareness from prospects, getting those prospects moved to “suspects”, and turning them into customers and making a sale (those would be the major pieces of a traditional sales funnel or marketing funnel).
I always recommend that you also focus on at least 3 years after the transaction. This is sometimes referred to as a re-engagement cycle. Hopefully, the customer will buy from you again.
This similar concept applies to the beginning of the funnel – the steps between awareness and a prospect choosing to use your service or purchase your product. Sometimes this process can also take years.
I also know from personal experience, a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs don’t always see the value of keeping in contact with someone for years either before or after they make a purchase. Think about it – if you stayed in contact with them 3 years after the sale, and it took 3 years before the sale to get them as a customer, you’ve spent 6 years! Sometimes it is viewed as a waste of time – if they haven’t purchased (or re-purchased) after 12 months, it sure does seem like they never will. Plus, with as fast as things change in the world of marketing nowadays, even one year is a really long time, not to mention two or three or more.
So why waste time and effort? That’s the point at which a lot of companies will drop the prospect.
While I do agree that the marketing method you use to maintain some level of awareness or engagement may (should) change over time, I do not agree that you should stop altogether.
At some point, your prospect or customer may choose to stop themselves, by no longer engaging with your brand. For example, they may unsubscribe from your email list, or “unlike” your Facebook business page. Re-engaging the people who have chosen to remove themselves is a completely different topic in marketing, and not what I am talking about here.
But you will have some people who haven’t purchased yet (or again), but also haven’t removed themselves from all of their possible points of awareness or engagement with you. These are the people who I want to talk about.
And these are the people that you shouldn’t write off.
What happened to me today
Back in 2013 – four years ago – a member of a group in Facebook that I was also a member of needed some help with a project that was probably driving him nuts. He had posted in the group asking for help, I responded. I fixed his problem, and it really only took me a few minutes to do, so I was happy to help.
When I have the few minutes to spare, I’m often happy to do things like this that I know will take me exponentially less time than the person having the problem. It’s called karma.
We friended each other on Facebook as part of that process, and of course like Facebook friends do I’ve been seeing some of his posts (at times I live vicariously through some of his travel adventures), and he has been seeing some of mine over the years. Even during those years, my posts at times would contain marketing tips.
Last year when I opened my freelance business, and began posting more marketing tips and information, he kept following that, I assume since he is a business person and I (try to) provide helpful information.
So basically, I have been doing some passive marketing to him for four years. It wasn’t my primary goal and never is to turn it into a transaction. But then again I passively market to all of those people I’m connected to – you never know when someone will know someone who knows someone who needs me.
A couple of days ago, he private messages me on Facebook. He has a new (side) venture he’s starting, and needs some help such as setting up a website etc. We connect today with a free marketing strategy call and talk about his project and possibilities, and now it looks like he is moving from prospect to customer.
Had at some point in the past I focused too heavily on only connecting with people who directly completed transactions or who could get me something, I may have chosen that keeping him friended, or on a list, or anything else wasn’t worth my time. However, that was never my end goal (I was just happy to help someone with a skill I could offer), and have enjoyed seeing some of the things he has shared over the years.
Prospects are never a waste of your time
While I recommend different marketing strategies based upon the different place in the sales or marketing funnel, prospects and those people post-sale should remain part of some of your passive marketing tactics.
Doing something good is never a waste of your time
Make friends first.
Business will follow.
Did I just accidentally quote The Office?
As Zig says,
“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”