New Marketing: Personalize What You Automate

One of the primary responsibilities of every sales and marketing professional is developing warm relationships with customers.

In the days before computers, we made it a habit to learn about the personal lives of our customers, including their families, pets, hobbies, leisure activities, and favorite sports teams. All of this information was either written down or committed to memory, which naturally limited what one person could accomplish.

These days you have the ability to easily collect massive amounts of data that is readily accessible, while also automating how your business connects with customers.

That seems to be where everything often stops – and it shouldn’t.

In this age of automation, it is possible to scale the time-honored practice of getting up close and personal with customers to first earn, and then retain their business.

It only takes recognizing the possibility, and why it is essential for achieving virtually any desirable business outcome.

The Goal is To Honor Every Relationship

What if it were possible to treat every single connection, follower, friend, or member of your tribe as an individual? This is indeed possible if you seek to organize what you automate, and then use that capability to add a human touch.

Businesses tend to organize from their perspective, using categories such as customer, prospect, vendor, etc. Now that you can tag your connections on LinkedIn and most CRM’s, they can be classified with a focus on them, such as their industry, special interests, events where you met, and so on.

This requires putting systems in place, but over time they will prove to be invaluable means for nurturing relationships. For example, social CRM Nimble has a feature that inquires about how frequently you would like to reconnect with a particular connection, thereby sending a notification based upon that desired frequency.

So, let’s say Nimble sends you a notice to reconnect. As one example, you can then link over to his or her LinkedIn profile, which will have a record of your last email conversation if you have activated LinkedIn Contacts.

Opportunity Starts With The First Connection

When you make a new connection, what happens in the days or months that follow is one of two things: The relationship either gets stronger or weaker.

Relationship take work, but if you have the desire and design a plan for connecting and then engaging with prospective buyers, influencers, and potential partners, opportunities will manifest.

Most of us have squandered more opportunities than we can count because we simply were not ready to take the relationship further. This was understandable in the old days, but technology has now erased those physical limitations.

Once you do make that initial connection, you often have just one shot at making it stronger. Here are a few suggested steps for doing so.

#1 – Invite everyone (yes, everyone) you meet to connect on LinkedIn. If they accept the connection, tag the relationship according to what works best for you. This could include where you met or what you have in common.

#2 – Use your social CRM to remind you when to reconnect with people to keep the relationship alive. The frequency will depend upon the relationship and potential opportunities.

#3 – Build a system that remembers personal information, and develop a plan for leveraging that. This is one of the secrets to getting more engagement on Facebook and the other channels – in short, be personal!

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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  1. As I get into more automation then it will be important to remember that social is still all about personal relationships and engagement – especially like your recommendation for Nimble which would seem to be an ideal tool for maintaining a social CRM system. Thanks, as usual, Jeff, for your latest blog article!

    • Thanks for your comment Angus – You should give Nimble a try. It offers more capabilities than most people need (or can handle.)

      That said, its focus is nurturing relationships, and THAT indeed is what business is all about these days. 🙂

  2. Hi Jeff,

    First time reading your blog, but I must say this post hit the nail on the head. In terms of relationship management, I think it’s absolutely true that a relationship either gets stronger or weaker after the first touch. What are some great methods or tools that you’ve found to help keep these relationships in order?

    • Good question Kevin – For me personally this will be a variety of methods, with my CRM being one of the most reliable. I’ve been using Infusionsoft for over a year but only recently have I begun to learn how to use tags to segment my lists, among other things, so that I can help people in very specific (read personal) ways.

      In addition to that, I put a great deal of effort into my weekly newsletter: Web Marketing News. It’s intentionally personal, and I encourage email responses, which allows me to get feedback and connect one-to-one.

      For some businesses, this works best if they focus on just a few channels. However, I personally think the challenge is integrating multiple channels and then using them well. You may wish to check out Zapier as a resource for this. I’m using it to connect email with Dropbox.

      Does this help?

      • That was very helpful, Jeff. Appreciate it.

        At this point, I’ve found that it can be a bit taxing trying to manage CRM and marketing through Google cloud software. I had looked briefly into marketing automation as a way to work more closely with sales, but so far have only adopted a social media monitoring tool to manage public-facing outlets.

        With social media automation under the belt, at what point would a small to medium sized business decide that marketing automation would be beneficial? How does Infusionsoft differ from other similar competitors’ software?

        • Kevin – Infusionsoft is certainly not for beginners. In addition to the monthly fees, most of us hired expert help to shorten the learning curve.

          That said, solutions like Infusionsoft bring “big data” capabilities to small businesses. The data collection and automation possibilities are endless, especially due to its integration with other apps.

          For example, I recently integrated IS with Twilio so that the members of my live audiences could text a number to subscribe to my newsletter, receive valuable free reports, etc.

          That audience is tagged in a variety of ways, which allows me to communicate with them in personal ways for as long as they remain a part of my community – and again, much of this is automated.


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