By J.R. Atkins
Marketing to prospective clients has changed greatly with the proliferation of online tools such as websites, email and most recently, social media. Prospects can turn to so many sources for information about you, your company, and your products or services. A recent day of yard work prompted me to explain the shift in marketing to a colleague as being “more like using a leaf blower then a rake.”
The Leaf Rake Approach
Prior to the proliferation of on-line tools, I collected contact information from prospects such as their name, address, phone number and fax number and stored them on 3×5 cards. In the early 90’s I started using ACT, a Contact and Customer Relationship Management system, or CRM, to keep up with prospect information and to schedule phone calls, meetings, and direct mail campaigns. Armed with this information, I could mail, call, and fax prospects about my products and services. This shows the emphasis on collecting contact information, much like raking leaves into a pile.
The Leaf Blower Approach
Today, I take a different approach that is more like a leaf blower. As I meet prospective clients, I connect with them on-line via email and or social media. I have shifted from collecting and hoarding data, to giving and sharing data. In other words I blow information into the wind and wait for those who are interested to reach out to me.
Social Media is a great tool for “Leaf Blower” marketing. Once a connection is made via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, a blog or YouTube, the prospect get’s to choose if they would like to follow you and if so, they can choose their preferred method of communication. Some prospects will discard the information you share, others will collect it and save it for the future, and some will find if valuable and share it with others, while some will act on it by reaching our my email, social media or phone. The main idea is that the prospects who are interested in you and the content you publish will “follow you” and when they are ready to buy, they will reach out to you.
Yet, there is a key point with this approach. It requires the marketer to publish content that is interesting, valuable and giving in nature. This kind of content will be shared with others and your message will take on the viral affect where it gets passed around to others very rapidly.
When using the “leaf blower” methodology, your goal is to draw prospects to you by “blowing out the information” and letting those that are interested come to you.
You probably need both
To be effective in my yard work, I need both a leaf rake and leaf blower to get the job done. In business, we need both approaches to market effectively. We should use the leaf blower approach to share good content through a website, email newsletter, LinkedIn, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, a Blog and a YouTube Channel. Then, we can identify those prospects that have an interest in our content and target them with direct mail, email blast and direct selling content and methods.
By using both approaches we can continue to grow our business while allowing the prospect to connect with us in the way that works best for them. My hope for you is that you “rake in the money while blowing away the competition.”
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