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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Facebook Buys WhatsApp: 3 Lessons for Your Business

WhatsApp is an instant messaging service for smartphones that has over 450 million users, and it is growing globally at a rate of one million users every day.

How WhatsApp operates promises to influence Facebook as much as its mobile technology. Tweet this

That has lessons that can help your business ensure its relevancy moving forward.

#1 – Don’t Fall in Love with Your Business Model

Facebook’s business model is clearly driven by revenue from advertising. This enriches Facebook at the expense of advertisers and users. That’s right, the content that finds its way into your newsfeed is largely the result of advertising. We tend to forget that.

This is one reason why I have never liked this model, and have instead suggested a subscription model, much like the one that WhatsApp employs. They charge all of their users 99 cents per year, with the first year being free. I’m sure you can expect that to go up in the future.

Is there anything wrong with that? Keep reading to learn why some form of subscription model may prove to be beneficial for everyone concerned.

#2 – The User Experience Matters

Wouldn’t your business gladly pay a few hundred dollars/year to have all of its content delivered to 100% of its fans? Would you as a user pay fifty dollars/year to have an unfiltered Facebook experience? Would you pay one hundred to have no advertising at all?

Thankfully, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum is an industry veteran who now has a seat on Facebook’s board of directors. If his voice is heard it will hopefully encourage more focus on earning revenue while respecting the user experience.

It’s doubtful Facebook will ever adopt a pure subscription model, but a hybrid incorporating some of its qualities is a possibility.

#3 – Partner with Relevant Businesses

From the beginning Facebook has encouraged it’s employees to “move fast and break things.” Breaking things will often get you into trouble, and over the years it has for Facebook, especially in regards to privacy. However, now that Facebook is a public company it is taking more prudent risks.

Facebook recognizes that it is not cool anymore, especially with the younger crowd that is gravitating towards applications like Instagram and WhatsApp. Thus, in order to ensure its future relevancy Facebook is buying relevancy.

While making acquisitions may not be a possibility for your business, it can partner with those in your industry that have different perspectives, approaches, and platforms. Many are lauding Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, with some even beginning to compare Mark Zuckerberg’s forward thinking wisdom to that of Steve Jobs.

If this acquisition influences Facebook as suggested here, then count me in that camp too. Facebook has never been more profitable. That’s the best time to break things.

Is it time to reconsider your business model to provide a better customer experience?

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)  

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