So you've got your business up and running. Your sign is in the window and people are walking by (or more likely, your website's up and running and people are browsing by). You're reaching out and drawing people in.
You've been adamantly keeping tabs on all the numbers. Who's coming in and looking around, how many are buying, how many repeat visitors...
Many business owners would stop right there with there marketing efforts. Having the raw data and fine tuning their strategy to see how it affects that raw data seems to be the name of the game in marketing today. Marketers will tell you all day long: you've got to collect that data, you've got to pick up those analytics, you've got to test, test, test.
And it's true. One side of the marketing coin is hard science. We need to know numbers because we need to know how our marketing is affecting our business' ROI. We've got a bottom line to meet and there's no way we're spending money on wasted efforts. Our strategy gets better the more we know.
But what about your customers?
No matter what type of business you own—B2B, B2C, and everything in between—you're marketing your product or service to people, not robots. If you're just collecting data, passively watching them come and go, hoping they'll buy from you, then throwing some information their way about your business based on their general habits, you haven't done any business with them.
Your customers deserve better...
You started your business because you saw a problem. There was a gap in the way your customers were doing things. Maybe they were wasting time or money and you saw a solution. Perhaps they were missing out on some beautiful thing that would add value to their lives. Or it's likely they were doing things the hard way and you wanted to make their lives easier.
If you're just collecting data and building your efforts around that, you're missing the point. You've come away from the relationship your business was founded on and become a people-watcher who just happens to sell things on the street corner.
True marketing is active. It is about responding to your customer's words, to their true needs, not to their supposed habits. It's about maintaining a relationship and keeping things fresh.
You've got to interact with your clients, not the data trails they leave behind.
A few small gestures go a long way.
Remember your business--any business--is P2P, person to person. Whether you're selling your product or service to an everyday, average customer, or to a large corporation, you're goal is to make an impression and communicate the value of your offer.
You're trying to convey a message to a person or to a group of people. You don't do this by spamming them with irrelevant content!
No matter what size business you're running, you should treat your customer's like they've just walked into a cozy little neighborhood cafe. Create a landing page on your website that greets them with relevant content and a friendly tone. Try to help them, not sell to them. Keep in touch by checking in on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Contact them directly and when you find an article that's relevant to them, send it their way. They'll really appreciate it.
"But my business is already growing!"
Calm down, you can still be personable to a large audience within your limited resources. Here's a few quick ways you can follow the principles of P2P marketing and still have time to run your actual business:
- Manage your prospects and clients through a CRM (customer relation management system) so you can keep notes on their interests and personal details in addition to their interaction with your business. Wordpress Leads is a great free alternative to some of the larger CRMs out there.
- Build an opt-in newsletter list that allows you to keep in touch with all your clients and prospects. Segment your lists through a system like MailChimp or MailPoet, then build email auto-responders to deliver relevant info to different interest groups in a personalized way.
- Invest in a system like HubSpot or Raven Tools that allow you to streamline much of your marketing through one platform, saving you a lot of time and effort. Many marketing automation platforms like HubSpot even allow you to craft personalized emails and landing pages that users receive when they perform certain actions on your site.
- Use Twitter's TweetDeck or a social monitoring tool like Mention to keep tabs on who's talking about your business or product. Respond to each mention with a friendly, personalized message.
- Schedule tweets, updates, posts, and other social statuses through Buffer, HootSuite, or CoSchedule so you can stay active on social media even when you can't actually be online. Also, sit down and write a few blog posts (or hire someone to do it) and schedule them on Wordpress through a plug-in like Edit Flow so you can stay active on your own site too.
Many of these platforms have free versions, or cost very little, so they won't break the bank. They'll also help your P2P marketing efforts tremendously. Your clients—whether professional or casual—will definitely take notice of your efforts to deliver a friendlier, more personalized message. And search engines will notice too.
SEO and search engine rankings are increasingly becoming defined by high-quality content. As Google continues to improve it's algorithms, your chance to be found will rely heavily on users' personalized history and activity online—not your landing page. That means you need to reach people on as many channels as possible in the most personal way with highly relevant information. This is the essence of P2P marketing.