We are in the age of relationship-led marketing and selling, and it’s no longer news that business is now as personal as it can get. Technology, with the entry of social networking sites, has made the personalisation of business a lot easier, especially for small businesses.
The foundation of successful marketing campaigns lie with your ability to:
(i) Identify people who want what you have to say and sell (your ideal customers)
(ii) Connect and network with them in order to better understand their challenges and wants, and then
(iii) Position your brand and offerings to be their most attractive and preferred solution.
This post discusses a 4-step method to attracting, connecting and networking with your ideal clients. You’ll also read about a case study of how 1 single connection made on social media site led to 3 new clients. Read on…
STEP 1: Before You Embark on Finding Your Ideal Customers
- Research and Profile your Ideal Customer: Who is your ideal customer – an end user, a business or both? Where do they live? How old are they? What problems are they going through that keeps them awake at night? What are their likes and dislikes? Where do they gather? What blogs and books are they reading (to get help from)? What terms do they use to talk about their problems (key-words)? What associations do they belong to?
Knowing and defining clearly who your ideal customer is, is one of the most important steps to finding and connecting with them, else you may have a huge following of even highly engaged fans, who have no genuine interest in what you sell or blog about. It’s important to write down your ideal customer’s profile and use it to work your every marketing content.
- Craft customer-focused “about page”, social media and forum profiles, using a profiling of your ideal customers and their needs. Write a profile that says what you do to who, and how: in the context of : “I help (people who have XYZ problem) to ______” by _____(how you do it). If your perfect customer knows that you understand what they are going through and can help them, they’ll easily warm up to you.
Here are good examples of customer-focused tag line and ‘About Page':
“I help businesses, universities, and service professionals . . . increase ROI and attract fiercely loyal fans . . . by communicating with customers as people”. ~ Liz Strauss on: the Ideal Customer Test
“…Since most of my clients are finance phobic I switched profiles and about pages to questions like “Are you afraid of finance?” or “Think finance can’t be fun?” Followed by “this Numbers Whisperer can help!” It has worked really well, although if I hadn’t truly understood my ideal client, I wouldn’t have ever tried it” ~Nicole Fende, smallbusinessfinanceforum.com.
STEP 2: Position Your Brand Strategically To Become Visible To Your Ideal Customers
Having written down your ideal customer’s profile, you should know where they always hangout, offline and online. Once you determine the best places your ideal clients gather, join the social network (online or offline), setup your customer-centric profile and start networking.
Use the keywords in your ideal customer’s profile you created in step 1 above, to search social networking sites (such as Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn, Xing etc) for people who match that ideal customer’s profile.
Your customers will find you (not you finding them) if you use customer-focused keywords and language in your profiles and articles.
NOTE: Not every social media platform is a hangout of certain people – for example, ideal customers for a fashion business will hangout more in Facebook and Fashion Forums than on LinkedIn (if at all). Another example: If your ideal customers are largely people above 60 years old, you are less likely to find them on Twitter.
STEP 3: Find and Communicate With Your Ideal Clients
Communication is a very effective positioning tool for reaching your ideal clients. Blog, forums and social media sites are great methods to put your brand where people will easily find you. Use your ideal customer’s profile to create contents and social media updates that will interest them – inform, inspire, educate and entertain them on what matters to them (Not You).
- Blogs: Your ideal clients, in looking for advice and help, visit blogs that write about what they are interested in. There are 2 ways you can reach your targeted customers, using the customer profile data you crafted:
- Write a Post on your blog or another website, that answers their question and Make it easy for them to find your contents: Answer their problem questions in your blog posts. Ensure to write in the language of your ideal customers, using their search keywords. To discover how to blog exactly what your ideal client is looking for, read How to find Hot Blog Topic Ideas.
- Leave useful comments on blogs in your market niche. Use Google blog search to find top blogs in your market niche that attract a good number of your target customers. Leave insightful comments and you’ll gain new readers (potential customers).
- Social Media Sites: To attract your ideal customer on social media sites, setup a Facebook and Twitter page, ensuring to put up your customer-centered profile.
- Forums in Your Niche: Use the “Board Reader” to find forums in your own market niche. Find relevant forum discussions and make useful contributions.
- Local, Offline associations: Find and join local associations that your ideal clients also hangout, and start networking your way.
STEP 4: Connect And Build Rapport With Your Ideal Clients
Building rapport with your ideal customers will help you to know them better. You’ll discover more about their problems, thereby getting a better insight on how to help your customers better than your competitors will. They’ll also have opportunities to know and trust you more, enough to know that your (product/ service) recommendation is in their best interest.
Here are a few suggestions to starting, building and nurturing a trust-based relationships with your target clients/ customers:
- On Social sites, choose who to follow: Use your customer profile as keywords to find new people to follow on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Networking starts with conversations – so reach out to your new connections. Search by people, location, events and groups.
- Reply to their comments on your blog. Find time to visit their blogs and leave comments.
- Emails: Ask your readers to subscribe for your updates. Reply their emails; send them tips and information via emails; ask them what they want to see more on your blog
- Leave comments on your commenters’ blogs, when you find the time
- Follow back your readers on Twitter, retweet their posts, also make a habit of being the first to follow them. Reply their @mentions of you.
- Interact with your Twitter followers as well as your readers, on Twitter
- Demonstrate your expertise – Ask and answer questions in Q & A sites, on topics that address their problems. Search Q & A sites for open questions include: Yahoo answers, LinkedIn answers, Quora, Focus;
- Give them a taste of your expertise. Create and give away free reports and offer short consultation with you
- Participate in discussions in relevant forums and social media groups
Case Study: How Building Relationship With 1 Single Connection Led To 3 New Clients
Debra Jason, a copywriter, found new clients through a cycle of relationships, on the Social Media. Debra narrates how she tapped into an opportunity (from simply a mention of connection #1) on a webinar, to connect to “Connection #1”.
Lessons Learned: From Social Media Conversations to Phone Calls To New Clients
- You can find your ideal clients even in unlikely places, such as Webinars, like Debra did
- Network (verb) and Always be expanding your connections. Start conversations to kick-off relationships AND Keep the Conversations going on
- Endeavor to connect to your connections’ connections that you share similar interests with. Debra attended a webinar where “Connection #1″ was mentioned by the presenter and she tapped into that;
- Debra found a point of discussion, outside of business. “Connection #1″ lives where she used to live and that became a topic for conversation;
- She was the first to reach out and to start a conversation via a tweet
- That tweet led to more tweets, and later, phone calls (getting to know more about each other’s business and skill sets)
- Connection #1 sent her a referral (Connection #2) – and Debra started working her relationship building magic again (repeated the process used with “connection #1”, starting by making the first move);
- Relationship with “connection #2” led to him hiring Debra on some of his projects;
- Debra attended a Webinar hosted by “Connection #2”, and again was the first to reach out to “Connection #3”;
- She repeated her usual conversation process and now has a partnership with “Connection #3”
*Note that getting the 3 relationships turn to clients, did not happen overnight, according to Debra. Did you see that Debra was good at going to where her perfect client hangs out and she makes the first move (to connect)? Did you see that she took every relationship beyond the social media?
When Will A Relationship Never Lead To Sales?
When you hang out where your ideal clients do not gather, no matter how hard you try, you will get burned out without getting results. So, always fish in the right pond.
By the way, this post is part of the month’s Word Carnival. Be sure to join us for further discussion on the topic of Finding and Connecting with Your Ideal Clients, at the #WordCarnival Twitter Chat on Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m., Pacific.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. If so, I’d love to hear about your own success pattern as well as the places you found them.
Where did you meet majority of your ideal customers for the first time? What role did conversation and relationship-building play in your customer acquisition process? Did you often get referrals from your online contacts?
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on the comment side.
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P.P.S: You may also like the following posts on how to connect with your ideal clients on Social Media