I was reading Seth Godin’s blog a while back when I came across something he said that made me stop.
He was writing about marketing (duh!) but, specifically about having conversations with people on the way to them becoming (we hope) customers.
Here’s how Seth puts it:
“A dialogue that is anticipated, personal and relevant, and that leads to turning those strangers into friends… so that one day, they become customers.”
Seth has a great way of looking at marketing in terms of people. We’re not marketing to numbers or groups or buying units. We’re marketing to people. And, in fact we’re not even marketing to them. Or at least we shouldn’t be.
We should be talking to them.
Our goal should be to have conversations with people who want or need what we can do for them.
Because conversations can lead to relationships. And relationships are based on mutual knowledge and trust. When a relationship exists, two people can easily do business because they know and trust each other. They can communicate better because they trust each other.
And when they can communicate better, they’re able to understand whether or not they should do business. They can accurately assess how well the product or service of one fits the wants or needs of the other.
When you get to that point, you have a customer.
Until then all you have are a lot of words and a lot of people.
Your job, as a marketer, is to mold those words into conversations with people who are interested in how you can help them. Through your conversations, you show them they can trust you. Because you care about helping them.
To paraphrase Seth, you’ll turn strangers into friends and friends into customers.