No, I’m not talking about raising kids – that’s a great thing to do but it’s the opposite of making money. 🙂
I’m talking about growing relationships with your prospects until they see you as a trusted resource and the preferred vendor of whatever it is that you sell.
Consider this: if price was really the primary reason people buy, Amazon would NOT be such a force online. In case you have not noticed, they do not always have the best price.
But they do have trust. So how can you do the same? By loving your prospects before they love (and buy from) you. That’s nurturing.
Kids need nurturing – when they start out they’re kinda-of-a mess. Eventually, hopefully, they get it together and become productive adults that will support you in your old age. 🙂 But that requires a massive investment! You parents know this.
Customers are not that much different. It is work to grow prospects into customers, you care about them intensely, there’s a real economic cost if they don’t “grow up right,” and I bet you even lose sleep over them. I suppose diapers is (thankfully) the main difference.
But just like kids, it is still the upfront investment you make in prospects that creates customers, especially the very best customers. So how do you love them before they love you?
No matter what it is you sell, that “stuff” you sell is not the business you are in.
Your business is serving the needs, wants, and desires of some group of people. One of the ways you can do that is to sell them “stuff”. But is that all you do? Then you are just a nameless, faceless store with no soul and the real people with feelings that might shop with you will do so only on price and shipping. Good luck with that.
There is precisely one alternative: Nurturing.
The late, great Zig Ziglar said it best:
“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
What is it that your prospects really want? Is it just “your stuff” or do they also need to know how to choose, how to use, how to be amused, and all the other ways to benefit from your stuff? Your customers have a life. The more you become a part of that life, the more you move from the “soulless faceless vendor” to the friend they buy Girl Scout cookies from even though they hate sweets!
People buy from people, not companies, even when we sorta “invent” the person that we are buying from.
When I buy from Amazon, I identify with the crowd that celebrates Jeff’s success in the face of what was at the time pretty overwhelming odds. I buy Apple because I have this long history as an Apple developer while my Tae Kwon Do master buys Samsung to honor his Korean heritage. These are all three invented personas: Jeff does not know nor care that I am a customer, Steve died, and no one at Samsung knows Master Kim. But it matters to us!
Ah, but Leslie, that’s just a “big brand” thing – it doesn’t work for us “little guys”
Au contraire mes amis! When we do not have to “invent” a persona for the company, nurturing works even better. For example, I buy gun stuff from GlockStore.com because of Lenny Magills massive free-line content and authentic personality. I buy vitamins from lef.org, despite my two clients in this market (sorry guys), because of my commitment to the mission (and sacrifices) of William Faloon.
Ah, but Leslie, I’m not good on camera and I don’t have a real “mission”
Okay, maybe you should change both of those 🙂 but you don’t have to be that different to be different. Just look around. Jeff Bezos does not blog about products. I bet none of your other competitors do either. The “bar” is so low it’s more walking than jumping to get over it! For example, I have a number of store credit cards and (almost) none of them email me ever, and when they do, it’s a coupon. Seriously?
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of better than nothing!
If you are not emailing your customers and prospects now, you are missing a 10 to 30 percent growth in your business. You don’t absolutely need video and you don’t have to write any of your content yourself because we have a plan for that.
It takes very little to stand out when the rest of the web is faceless, mostly silent, and clearly unconcerned. If you are one of the very few that would like to be just enough different to matter, and grow your business as a result, then we should talk.