I’m a great believer in the theory that people buy from people they like. In traditional business models, where transactions are conducted either face to face or (at the very least) over the phone, it’s easy to see how this works. But in the digital industries, where human interaction is seen as expensive, unnecessary and, more often than not, is the exception rather than the rule, how do you get people to like you beyond the ubiquitous Facebook like?
- Create high profile brand ambassadors: Position individuals within your organization as brand ambassadors or thought leaders. Feature their photos prominently on your website and other marketing collateral and encourage them to engage with your customers or prospects directly. Give your brand ambassadors free rein to write blog posts, add comments to social networks, attend industry specific events and generally act as the human face of your organization. A charismatic CEO might be your most obvious choice as your brand ambassador but a passionate marketer, account manager, customer service agent or salesperson are equally valuable – and may actually be more approachable to your customers.
- Get social: Encourage your employees to share your organization’s wit and wisdom via their social networks. If this sets off alarm-bells with overly-cautious marketers, you should set expectations about what and what cannot be posted without first seeking approval. A common sense approach will be more beneficial to building relationships than a set of strict, unbendable rules.
- Personalize your email communications: Let your customers and prospects know you care about them as individuals by segmenting your lists and sending targeted, personalized communications. Email marketing software like iContact will help you do this easily and effectively. A carefully segmented list will drive more engagement (eg. clicks and opens) and generate higher revenues. Sometimes an email sent directly from an individual rather than a generic marketing communication will yield more positive results (iContact will also be able to help you do this).
- Hit the headlines: Make friends with the press. This should include local and national media, specialist or trade publications and industry specific blogs and other online media. Don’t try and directly sell via your PR efforts. If you share good news (company growth, recruitment drives, charitable contributions, etc.), thought leadership and industry-related comment you’ll find sales follow in the path of increased brand recognition and reputation. Organizations that are regularly featured (favorably) in the press will appear more trustworthy, stable and, dare I say it, likeable. Building personal relationships with journalists and bloggers is invaluable. You can extend your reach by using services like PRWeb who will help position your news across a wide range of publications and online news services as well as aiding your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts.
- Pick up the phone: The telephone is an underrated communication channel in the digital age. It might not be cost effective to have a one to one conversation with everyone you do business with (this is where email autoresponders will come into their own). But the telephone is an invaluable tool when finessing a potentially lucrative, influential or problematic client or prospect. Regular telephone conversations with clients will also help you better understand your clients’ everyday needs and help you create more powerful, engaging and relevant marketing campaigns. Marketers who don’t speak to clients regularly are probably not being as effective as they should be. Learn how iContact used the phone to land me as a client long before I worked for them.
- Online Events: Online meetings and webinars provide an incredible opportunity for businesses to position themselves in front of their target audience without the costs or investment in time normally associated with events marketing. Online meeting technology gives marketers a platform to share ideas, present product demonstrations and best practices, as well as field questions from your audience helping with customer acquisition and retention. Don’t try to sell directly via a webinar. Instead you should focus on answering questions and solving your customers problems. Webinars also provide an incredibly powerful tool to help you build your email marketing subscription lists which (see point #2) if exploited correctly can definitely make you more likeable.
John W. Hayes will be presenting a special webinar entitled A Crash Course in Email Marketing for SMEs on December 4th at 11am (GMT).
Photo: Luca Sartoni