Hold onto your hats, folks. I’m about to reveal to you the big secret of digital marketing – and it’s the last thing you would expect. Ready?
The secret of digital marketing has nothing to do with anything digital. It has to do with flesh-and-blood people.
And it’s a good thing, too. At least for me. Because I’m a people person. I genuinely like people. I like getting to know them, learning what kindles their passion, discovering their dreams. And when you’re working in digital marketing, it’s a little too easy to forget that behind those Twitter handles and Facebook profile photos and blog comments, there are living, breathing human beings. We’re so focused on getting specific reactions and results in the virtual world; we’re often in danger of losing touch with the real one.
Successful digital marketing is about building relationships with real people. And how do we accomplish that in the real world? By getting to know people, earning their trust, and getting over ourselves long enough to show a genuine concern for them. The same process applies in the world of digital marketing.
Here are 3 things that you can do to step up your game today.
First, Get to Know Them
If you’re not already intimately familiar with your target market’s interests and needs, you need to get familiar. Understand what they want. Explore, watch, listen.
Second, learn to speak to your target market in a language they understand. Know their favorite subjects, know their jargon.
Next, know what you want out of the relationship. Be clear in your own mind about the desired outcome.
Now, you’re ready to engage with purpose and build trust.
Second, Earn Their Trust
If you want to influence your target market’s choices and buying behavior, you’ll need to earn their trust. There are a number of ways to do this, the most potent of them being the following:
- Become a trusted authority. We can’t all know everything about everything. That’s why we look to others for guidance in their areas of expertise. Help your market understand that you’re the one to come to when they need _______.
- Speak to their situation, not your strengths. I know. You’re excited about your product or service. But we’re creatures of self-interest, and your target market isn’t nearly as fascinated by you and your stuff as they are by themselves. Rather than selling your strengths, focus your message around your target’s needs and wants. Speak to their fears, their desires. Get into their mindset, and out of yours.
- Give them results in advance. You’re not just spewing hot air – you’re poised to deliver! Demonstrate to your market that you know what you’re talking about. Once they achieve even the smallest results, they’ll be back for more! This includes your paid services. Think about the old CD model. Radio stations would play the best song(s) on the CD, and you’d buy the rest — even if most of them stunk! Don’t be afraid to give your best stuff up front and rise above the noise.
Third, build a community in which they feel safe.
Whether it’s on your blog, on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere, your target market needs to feel good about sharing space with you. They need to know you won’t be ambushing them with high-pressure sales tactics every other minute. They need to feel they’re being respectfully served, not used and abused. Ask yourself if your digital marketing efforts pass the test.
- Add value through content and guidance. Give them something they can use. Be generous with information and advice.
- Provide access to yourself or your team. Your target market wants to know that reaching out to you isn’t a wasted effort – that you’re truly there, behind the digital curtain, listening and caring. They’re real people, and they’d like to believe you and your team are, too. To that end, give folks the opportunity to communicate with you, and respond promptly.
So, if you think digital marketing is the perfect career for the misanthrope, think again. It’s still about relationship-building – not with faceless social media accounts, but with human beings. If you’re a true friend to your target market, they’ll return the love. It’s how some of the wildest success stories happen, every day.
Jamie Crager is the founder and CEO of both Crowdshifter Media and blazefly, Inc. Crowdshifter is a digital marketing consulting firm and blazefly is a new social platform launching Q1 of 2014. Jamie also teaches social media marketing for businesses in the Continuing Education department at Iowa Western Community College. Currently he is a co-author on the next Facebook AIO for Dummies published by Wiley due out in March 2014.