We’re living in a communications revolution and to be successful, you need to be a part of the new world order. Today people communicate in real time. Social networks are easy to use, completely free, and reach every human on the planet with an internet connection, so it’s no wonder that billions of people around the world have gravitated to them.
However, the result can be a polarizing and cold digital world, with tidal waves of spam email and social networks that display advertisements instead of our friends and fake news instead of fun stuff. With so many people competing for online attention, it’s become more difficult for companies and individuals to build the kind of trust that leads to a growing relationship with customers over time.
So how can we generate attention in today’s crowded world? Here are five ways:
- IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. IT’S ABOUT YOUR BUYERS.
Today, buyers are in charge.
With near perfect information available on the web and social media, the idea of mystery in the sales process is over. Your buyers are conducting independent research as they look to work with companies and buy products and services. There is no more ‘selling’ – there is only buying. We research companies before taking a first meeting – who is the CEO? We head over to LinkedIn before meeting a job candidate – does she have anyone I know in her network? We check out product reviews before making a purchase. We watch a movie trailer before deciding which film to see.
When buyers have near perfect information on the web, it means we must transform from sellers to authorities and your organization must tell a story.
The key is to understand your buyers, carefully identifying and defining target audiences and consider what content is required to meet their needs.
Who are my buyers? How do I reach them online and in social media? What are the market problems I can help them solve? How can I entertain them and inform them (and maybe even make them laugh)?
But few people take the time to understand buyers! We have a tremendous opportunity to stand out and get noticed just by focusing on buyers’ needs and being active online and in social media.
- BUYERS DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Many entrepreneurs who learned about marketing in the old days feel compelled to talk way too much about their products and services. But nobody cares about your products and services (except you)! As Tony often says, the biggest mistake most businesses make is falling in love with their product or service, not with their clients.
What people do care about is how an organization can solve their problems. People also like to be entertained and to share in something remarkable. You must resist the urge to hype your products and services. Instead, create something interesting that will be talked about online. When you get people talking, they will line up to learn more and to buy what you have to offer.
Here are a few specific actions that can help you immediately:
Rather than use overused cliché words like “best of breed”, “cutting edge”, and “innovative” to describe what you do, start by understanding the words and phrases that your buyers use to describe their problems.
Understand that people crave authenticity and transparency. Being truthful and empathetic rather than using hype and spin will attract more people to you.
Don’t send unwanted messages and advertising. Instead, publish online content they want to consume.
- EDUCATE YOUR BUYERS INSTEAD OF SELLING
In today’s marketplace of ideas, successful entrepreneurs educate and inform. Instead of talking up their products and services, they highlight their expertise by sharing videos, content-rich websites, social streams, blogs, e-books, and images. Rather than using the old sales playbook of information hoarding you need to freely publish content that people will enjoy consuming.
We also have the ability to interact and participate in conversations that other people begin on social media and review sites. If somebody asks a question on Twitter or LinkedIn or Amazon, that’s your chance to interact! There are always people looking for your expertise and being helpful is a great way to reach people when the moment is right.
The best teachers are respected by their marketplace. People will seek you out when you help them and they will be eager to do business with you!
- THE POWER OF REAL-TIME COMMUNICATIONS
We’re living a real-time 24×7 world! News feeds and social channels like Twitter are instantaneous. That means you need to engage with the market on their time, not yours. Gone are the days when you could plan out your marketing and public relations programs in advance and release them on your timetable.
Real-time means right now, not this afternoon and not tomorrow. Today suddenly and unpredictably go viral to a global audience and you need to be ready. If you are early to see an opportunity and are the first to act on it, there is a huge potential to stand out from the crowd.
I recommend that you monitor a real time news feed on a regular basis. I use Google News but there are many other sources. I also suggest monitoring Twitter to see what people are saying. This doesn’t need to take more than a few minutes a day and you can do it when you have downtime, like on a boring conference call (don’t tell – I do this sometimes).
- MANAGE YOUR FEAR OF NEW WAYS TO COMMUNICATE
We all face fear – fear of the strange, of the new, of the untested. It’s a natural human response and something that Tony talks about frequently: “And if we let it, fear can keep us locked up in the prison of the comfortable and predictable, which prevents us from reaching our true potential.”
To truly achieve greatness, you must act. You may need to challenge the status quo to make a difference in the world. Yes, you might fail spectacularly. But a fear of failure is not a reason to sit in front of the television instead of working on that project that’s burning away in your gut.
If you are new to it, the idea of real-time communications is scary. But in my experience, many people trace their worries about new forms of marketing to their belief that “people will say bad things about our company” via social media and this fear leads them to avoid participating in real-time media.
However, I’ve confirmed that this fear is significantly overblown. Employees, customers, and other stakeholders are talking about your organization offline anyway, so unless you are participating online, you’ll never know what’s being said at all.
Now is the time!