Facebook’s friend metaphor takes on a different meaning in marketing communications. Use your content marketing to make friends.
My friend and former business partner John Bromhead has often maintained that the purpose of marketing is to start a conversation. It’s easy to grasp that concept, especially when you’re trying to explain the difference between marketing and sales.
Johnny B. Truant blew the long-standing lid off that pot for me:
So I told him: People don’t come to me because I create the best WordPress websites in the world, because I don’t. The people who come to me do so because we’re friends…
If you write and talk about yourself as a whole person, rather than a one-dimensional business drone, people tend to be interested in you.
If you answer tweets and emails in a somewhat chatty, personal way instead of going for the sale when it’s not obviously warranted, people tend to enjoy talking to you.
And when all of those friends — and friends of those friends — one day have a need that you are able to fill, they won’t go to Google and look for the first search result or for the guy with the cheapest price. It’s human nature that they’ll come to you — their friend — first.
With that mindset, you don’t stop trying once you’ve got the conversation going, do you? Your goal is to make friends, and that will take more effort than idle chatter.
Marketing communications for friends
How can you make your marketing communications efforts work like that?
- Don’t lie. Or even bend the truth. You didn’t make friends that way on the playground, and it won’t work on the Web.
- Give more than you get. Give away a white paper or an e-book, and make sure the recipients get more out of it than they bargained for.
- Don’t sell. People like to buy, but they don’t like to be sold to, and that goes quintuple for friends.
- Put some humanity into your marketing communications. “Write and talk about yourself as a whole person,” says Johnny. Can you make your organization sound as though it’s made up of whole persons?
The web has magnified our interpersonal connections and the ability to meet new folks in new ways, but it hasn’t changed the fundamental nature of relationships. If we like people, then we want to hang out with them more, and do more with them. It’s that simple.
Now get out there and make some new friends.
photo credit: U.S. National Archives