A few weeks ago, you decided to make a really nice dinner for the family. One of the dishes was broccoli smothered in cheese. After eating the deliciousness, you help clean up the kitchen. Somehow you get stuck with the cutting board that you cut up the broccoli on, and all of these teeny teeny tiny green “broccoli boogers” are clinging to that board for dear life. Suddenly, you get an idea for a small, easy tool that would easily pick up those little pieces of broccoli flower.
You decide, after getting this BPU (broccoli picker-upper) just right that you are going to try to sell it. Now, there are two ways you can do this. You can go to all of your friends, all of your neighbors, and anyone you meet on the street and do your sales pitch, or you can try to find people who might really be looking for a BPU. Let’s face it – not everyone likes broccoli, even if it is smothered in cheese.
In the online world, there are also two ways to create your community. You can follow and follow back everyone, or you can be a bit more choosy, a bit more careful. And there are two ways to relate to either of those groups. You can immediately start blasting people with your BPU story, or you can build relationships with people a bit more while listening via HootSuite or TweetDeck to find out who is complaining about those darned tiny broccoli boogers.
You have a unique opportunity online
If you’re one of those people who complain all the time about how advertising is “throwing spaghetti against the wall,” maybe it’s because someone told you that you don’t really know if you’re reaching the right customers. OK, so let’s think about that. You send an ad to a consumer publication (B2B publications are a bit easier to monitor because their circulations are audited) and anyone, absolutely anyone, could see that ad. And they might skip over your ad altogether because they have no idea what happens when you cut up broccoli. If you engage with people online, that problem is *BLAM* gone.
Because you know that the people visiting your blog or your Facebook page are fully interested in what you are doing, what you are saying, and what you are selling. They have built their relationship with you based on who you are AND what you are selling. They are not faceless masses to you either. You know that Johnny over there has already asked you to create a similar product for cleaning up those tiny pieces of parsley and basil that get left over. These folks aren’t just customers. They’re investors. In you. And in what you sell. It’s mutually beneficial. And you created that environment because you engaged fully with people from the start.
Yes, Naysayers, it does take time
I know what you’re thinking. “That’s great, so I’m waiting six months till I get this great network, and then I can start to sell.” Well, that’s where a plan comes in super handy. Are you thinking about launching a product? Is it at the “apple in your eye” stage? Start networking and engaging now based on the demographic of people you will want to sell that product to. Start talking to people. Start the process of truly getting to know the people you will want to mention this to in six months. Because you’ve fully disclosed that you’re in the business of making crazy inventions, people know that they can expect that kind of message from you from time to time. So you can actually, when the time is right, mention that you have a product for just that problem they’re chatting about.
But how can you do that if you don’t know anyone you’re following?
It’s not just hippie dippie fluff
We’re going to be talking about this angle of things for awhile, but consider this in parting for today. Engagement, while it may seem like a lot of hippie dippie fluff, is actually your way of getting to know your customers, getting to know what your customers need and want, getting to know what your customers need and want from you, and getting to know how to make your customers feel awesome about buying YOUR products from YOU.
What do you think? Does this make sense?
This is post #28 in the Engagement Series. If you worry you might be missing posts, go on ahead and hit that subscribe button.
Image by ilker. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ilco