Making a connectionThis article came about from a Twitter conversation I had the other week which went like this:

@RichardFallonUK: Marketing, ultimately, is about making a connection with your target market.  Then once established maintaining that connection.

@StuJordan7: surely the ultimate aim of marketing is to create a desired reaction rather than just a connection?

@RichardFallonUK: Reaction implies something fleeting if you need to build confidence with prospects then you need to make a connection.

@StuJordan7: but what is the point of engagement with no end reaction? It’s an important step but it’s not the ultimate aim of marketing

@RichardFallonUK: Interesting chat.  I’ll get back to you in a blog post.

This is the post as promised.

This conversation raised an interesting point- what are you aiming for in your marketing?

My point was that I think you are aiming to create and maintain a connection in marketing.  A connection helps establish trust and confidence in your marketing messages, your offering, your business and you.  When your prospect buys then you maintain the connection so they come back to you again and again.  Most lost clients have gone missing because they have simply forgotten about you (i.e. the connection was not maintained).

I think Stuart’s point was that you want a reaction, i.e. for prospects to buy.  Yes, you do want people to take action and buy but often this requires creating a connection beforehand and then maintaining it.

Let’s look at two different examples:

A new restaurant has opened and they are giving out flyers with their opening offer.  Clearly the reaction you want is people going in and enjoying a meal.  The thing you really want though is a connection.  You want your new guests to feel a connection, to feel very welcome and to believe that this is their new home.  Your marketing needs to collect their details in exchange for a club card and then regularly contact them to foster and maintain the connection.

Let me explain why.  It takes a considerable amount of effort to change people’s eating and drinking habits.  This is why you need a connection.  GroupOn and LivingSocial are the masters at getting a reaction.  Many venues believe that by just giving GroupOn, LivingSocial, Wowcher etc. customers an excellent experience that they will come back. This is only the case if they build a connection with them.  Venues tend to forget that these customers have their connection with GroupOn, LivingSocial etc; not with the venue.  In most cases, the visitor goes back to their old haunts and other offers promoted by the daily deal site they have a connection with.

Now let’s look at the example of a professional service provider.

A wealth manger, accountant or solicitor wants to win more business from more affluent clients.  In this situation, she must make a connection before she will win them as a client.  Most affluent people are very careful about choosing their trusted advisors and they will almost always go with the firm or individual that they have the most confidence in.  It takes a connection to build and foster confidence.

Once they have them as a client, they must continue their marketing and delivery to maintain a strong connection and stop them being poached by competitors who are itching to get seize any opportunity.  The rule is- if you have enviable clients then your competitors are just waiting for you to drop the ball… and many companies will.

There is a danger which I think Stuart was alluding to where you make a connection but don’t utilise it or make a sale.  This scenario occurs most often in business networking and on social media.

Business Networking

Many people network and make connections through networking events or groups. The issue is that these might be social rather than business connections.  There are numerous networking events which are more social than business focused.  It it is easy to fall into the trap- you think you are forging business relationships which lead to work when in fact you’re just having a pleasant chat over lunch or a glass of wine.

Also the people you meet at networking events are also looking for business so unless you look to create a mutually beneficial relationship with them then it isn’t going to work.

Social Media

People often link with or follow you on social media who have little or no interest in you or your products or services.  They are simply looking to expand their network.  I, along with many others, get numerous invites to link on LinkedIn from people I don’t know who are solely looking to grow their network.

It can also take a long time to establish a good connection on social media and even when you do this does not necessarily lead to business.  I have many international connections who I exchange ideas with but would not necessarily work with.

The advantage with social media is you can reach many people at once while also keeping in front of your prospects and clients.  It is also a great way to get you content in front in existing clients and potential new ones. Content breeds confidence and can help cement connections.

Marketing must help you get sales (e.g. a buying reaction) but it must foster and maintain the connection so your clients or customers don’t wander off.