Using relationship marketing to make sales

What’s your end goal in your marketing strategy? Do you want to sell books? Promote a blog or a website? Sell some products? Or something else?

In marketing, we call this a “conversion.” No, we’re not talking a last-ditch effort to get the ball on the two-yard-line after a touchdown in football. We’re talking about accomplishing your desired result. Usually, this involves sales. It’s the act of taking a lead or a prospect from someone who clicks like on your Instagram posts and comments on your tweets to one step further — visiting your website link — and one step further indeed — plunking down cold, hard cash.

There are a number of ways of achieving this end goal. All of these methods involve a numbers game. Let’s face it, disposable income is dwindling, and I won’t have to remind you that these are uncertain times. Madison Avenue blasts that phrase so often it is starting to seem condescending. We know, guys. That’s the lottery right there — sales. Just getting people to click on links is like a Hail Mary move. People don’t click; they like to mindlessly scroll for hours and laugh at cat videos and look at cake pictures. People especially don’t like obvious grasps for their attention, like waving a flier in their face and yelling at them to click.

So the first way is purely transactional and focused on numbers. The more followers you collect, the more eyeballs will gaze upon your link. This is a tried and true method that plays to the rhythm of the social media algorithm. Twitter, for example, pumps up your position in its algorithm as soon as you cross that threshold of 1,000 followers, then 5,000, then 10,000, and et cetera. Many people swear by this method. It attracts “follow for follow” culture; I’ll follow you for a follow back. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

But this method is becoming stale, partly because of the robust and evolving nature of the algorithm that endeavors to swallow small businesses in its path. The fact of the matter is that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have one customer and one customer only. That customer is advertisers. Advertisers want user data. Facebook is more overt about this than the others, but every social media platform works the same way. They want to sell user data to companies who will then pay for advertising to get the eyeballs of potential leads who are mindlessly scrolling. One haphazard click may lead to a sale. It’s a calculated gamble.

In other words, attempting to manipulate the algorithm is only possible if you have big dollars to spend on advertising. Corporate users with millions of followers can gain traction this way. A self-published author with 50 sales and 10,000 followers? Forget it. That’s more like what they call a losing hand. You’ll always be trying to get the attention of your followers. You’ll always be wondering why they are not commenting and liking your posts. You’ll always be wondering how long you will be shouting into the void.

But likes and comments and eyeballs don’t matter if no one buys your book. If no one clicks your link. If you don’t convert.

It sounds transactional, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The way to do this the best is relationship-based marketing. It’s showing your genuine self on social media. You can still be private and not share personal data, and show your authenticity to the world. Private does not have to be fake.

You start small. People want to know what you think. People care about your random thoughts. They want to know who you are as a human being. Think of it like building any kind of relationship. You open up and share vulnerabilities in order to deepen the relationship and build trust when you meet friends, right? People on the Internet are the same way. Maybe they are not friends.

But tell them about your day. Yes, tell them what you ate for lunch. You do have interesting things to say. If you’re marketing a book, you are a writer, and writers have interesting takes on even mundane subjects. The idea is to get people on your side. The idea is to get fans who will like and comment on your posts. The more people like and comment and interact with your posts, the more they see them in their feed, no matter how large your following and exposure through numbers. You want people to go to bat for you.

People who are on your side will buy your book. They will click on your link. They will purchase your product. They will do this because they feel that they know you. They want to support you. They believe in you and the message you are sending out into the world. They are fans. You’re building a community, essentially, of engaged people who see something in you that is relatable and real.

This way is slow and gradual. It may not seem like you make much traction at first. It may also become difficult to separate the personal from the professional. When one of your new “friends” blocks you, it will hurt. Because you have come to care about these people, and that can’t be faked. They are more than just prospects.

But 500 engaged fans are better than 50,000 people who can’t be bothered to click on a link. They call it social media, after all, not “shout at us” media.

All it takes is five sales.

So start making friends.

Cake helps.

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