If you called a stranger right now and asked them to lunch, the odds that they would accept is very low. This is especially true if you lack a platform or any prior access to the person. Furthermore, even if you did receive a referral, it is likely too forward of a move.
In the old economy, we had more time and attention. We did not mind being sold because there was an education process within the personal meetings. Furthermore, times were different. We did a lot more lunches and face-to-face meetings.
Today, building relationships takes place far before any face time occurs, if any. Inbound marketing works in step with how people decide and move through a buying process. Here is what happens with an inbound marketing process:
- What you do gets on the radar. Imagine how cluttered we feel online or on our mobile devices. There are so many apps, social media and places to visit. It’s a sea of information. Your audience develops when your content is continuous and relevant to their lives. If you are relevant, then people start to pay attention, follow you, like you and subscribe.
- You go from stranger to friend. If you are valuable in the minds and lives of the audience you serve, then there is a familiarity which develops. You start to change in the mind of your audience. You may have started as a stranger, but your name and your brand becomes welcome and anticipated. You are a friend.
- Intimacy and buying may happen. As you become anticipated and welcome, buying becomes natural. It’s part of a continuous process and experience. Your audience has a distribution of different types of people that regard you differently. If you promoted a product or service, perhaps small and inviting, you can see the people that trust you raise their hands.
- Your brand is sneezed. Raving fans like to tell other people about what helped them. Unsolicited referrals happen from delighted people who have benefitted from your help, insight or products. They sneeze you like a virus to their networks of friends.
Inbound marketing is not a quick fix to driving sales. It is a continuous process which needs to be nurtured. The heart of it all stems from a seller seeking to provide value consistently around the problems and desires of the buyer. It is building a relationship through an exchange of value over time. Become more valuable and distribute your knowledge and the world has access to your door. Strangers become friends and friends become fans that buy and refer.
If you think about how to build relationship today, how could this apply for your business?