Yesterday we talked about circles of friends and the basics of engagement-based segmentation. In summary, everybody has three circles (core, community and loose connections) of friends and those circles get smaller and tighter (greater levels of permission, trust and commitment) the closer they are to you in your lives.

We left off with the question, how can you adopt this methodology for business and marketing purposes? First, I think organizations need to change their ‘mindset’ in three big ways:

Moving from a customers to friends

Most companies segment based on purchase behavior. They bucket groups of people as either prospective customers, current customers or loyal customers. What matters in this grouping is what stage the person is in their buying process.

However, to be successful in engagement marketing you need to abandon the concept of customer and instead adopt the use of the term friend. And, I don’t mean just replacing the word like you do when you say ‘fiddlesticks’ when you truly mean f(censored)k. I mean you need to actually treat the relationship as a friendship.

Robots don’t run companies, people do

Yikes, treating people as friends seems soft and fuzzy. I can just hear your corporate robot voice, “We can’t possibly treat people this way. We are, after all, a corporation, and our goal is to make money. Customers are what matters.”

Don’t get me wrong I’m just as much a capitalist as you. Making money is important. But, if you are going to continue making money you need to realize that the path to get there is by building friendships (both on- and offline).

Corporations are ran by humans, not by robots. Humans who organize their lives around friendships, not around ‘customers’. Can you imagine if you only decided to care about your friends if there was some financial transaction involved?

Move from awareness to permission

How does your behavior change now that you’re dealing with friends? Would you phone your friend up at 2 a.m. to offer your 50% off sale? Would you spam them? Would you flood their wall with news of your impending sale? I hope the answer is a resounding no to all of the above.

Once you’ve adopted the ‘friend mindset’ your strategy needs to change. Rather than focusing on building awareness you need to focus on building permission. You need to focus on building the friendship.

The cliffhanger

How do you systematically build friendships? Tune in for part three.