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Tag archives for nurture relationships

Web technology makes it very easy to quickly communicate with so many people that it’s easy to forget the overriding purpose of creating a powerful web site.

It’s cool to be able to interact with customers who come to a web site. We can share a great deal of information, gather more profile data than we think we can use, and provide an entertaining, informative, and educational environment.

It’s so cool that we sometimes lose sight of what we’re trying to accomplish with this technology. Sure, we want to sell products with e-commerce or generate leads for salespeople.

But how does this impact the audience? I mean, really impact them.

Many people involved in Internet marketing feel that they’re helping members of their audience improve their lives through the information and products provided on the web.

Some time back a series of TV spots ran for iVillage. They talked about women with real problems finding real help from people like themselves. Because many ailments are shared by very small groups of people, these groups are so small that local support organizations aren’t always available to help. The Internet provides access to those communities of people who share common interests and needs, and are willing to help.

Speaking of TV commercials, another company is advancing the concept of one-to-one marketing and mass customization. Xerox periodically runs a campaign with the theme, “keep the conversation going.” This campaign shows that providing personalized information to customers appeals to people – on paper, of course. Xerox makes a good case that profile data can be used to personalize more than just web sites and e-mails.

Influence Decisions

But all of these – from communities of like-minded people to personalized web, e-mail, social media, and, yes, paper-based communications – are done for one reason, and that’s to influence decisions.

Communication is a give and take. Whether it’s an online community where people share their experiences or an e-commerce site where merchants provide products (and get paid). We communicate when we want to influence those around us to be like us, respect us, and sometimes buy from us.

Internet Interaction

But how do we actually use the web to provide the kind of interaction that touches people and influences their decisions? The slogan used in the Xerox TV commercial has the answer: Keep the conversation going.

The conversation we use in everyday life is also aimed at influencing the decisions people around us make. We know that we need to speak the language of the person we’re trying to communicate with and understand what they’re feeling.

Have you watched a couple of Internet techies talk to each other? At first they ask a few questions to learn about the other person’s experience level and background. Then they shift into a very different level of talking that uses a language of their own, sometimes called “technospeak” (and sometimes called “technobabble”). They don’t care if the non-technical people around them don’t understand their TLAs (three letter acronyms), because those conversation shortcuts help them communicate better.

Building Relationships with Conversation

They can quickly form a bond of trust and understanding that frequently allows them to learn from each other. That respect can lead to learning something new that influences their decisions.

So how can we use conversational techniques on the web to influence visitors? Portions of the Xerox web site are written in a conversational style, but there’s more to making a site conversational than the style of writing.

A truly conversational site learns about visitors, saves that information in profiles, and then uses that knowledge to react to different interests.

Here’s a quick test to see if your web site is conversational:

  • Does the site ask questions aimed at learning about each person?
  • Can the site determine if someone is just starting to learn about products like yours or has researched the market and is about to make a purchase decision?
  • Does the text on the site change to match the interest and knowledge level of the visitor?

These are just a few of the ways that profiles about people can be used to make a Web site more conversational, but the real focus should be on getting in step with each visitor and matching what the site says with what people are thinking and feeling. The art of conversation is taught in books, classes, and seminars, so there is a procedure for doing it. Why not use the same procedure on the Web?

Intuitive navigation and great design help people find the right document. But taking advantage of meaningful profile data allows dynamic Web and e-mail to make an impact on members of the target market and influence their purchase decisions

Cliff Allen, cofounder of SureToMeet, president of Coravue

Entrepreneurs starting a high-growth high-tech business network somewhat differently from other people — and that was clear at the StartupLA conference.

StartupLA was organized by local entrepreneurs who decided that other entrepreneurs starting high-tech ventures in Los Angeles need a quick overview of key parts of business.

I was pleased to participate in the marketing panel, and later watched the panel on business networking. Those four panelists clearly have their own attitudes and approaches to networking.

For example, Boris Epstein, a recruiter, has over 500 connections in LinkedIn and uses LinkedIn extensively to contact candidates. On the other hand, Joel Ordesky, one of CTOs on the panel, has under 300 contacts and advises people to not seek connections to the “super connectors” in LinkedIn.
Each of the four panelists shared a number of real-word networking tips. Here is a significant tip from each panelist:

Steve Burgess gave the best reason to continually build your network when he said, “I don’t do business with people I don’t know.” This indicates the importance of developing relationships before you expect to do business with someone. For entrepreneurs, it’s especially valuable to nurture relationships with potential investors before asking them to make an investment.

Boris Epstein said, “Being with people ‘up’ the ladder allows you to learn from people who have done more than you have.” Networking with people who are more accomplished in certain areas allows you to have new experiences with someone who can mentor and provide guidance.

Joel Ordesky said, “Tell who you are, not what you want to be.” People who network are usually looking for contacts who can help them make a change, so it’s hard to avoid talking about the new project or venture. This can be tricky for entrepreneurs starting a new business, especially when they are leaving another industry to start their new business.

However, the reason other people network with us is based on who we are now and how we can help them. So, temper your enthusiasm for your upcoming projects and let people know how you can help them today.

Tony Karrer said, “Formulate a question that’s a request for expertise.” An effective way to engage people is to ask for information or assistance. It’s a great conversation starter, and it can form the basis of a relationship.

These real-world networking tips illustrate that successful networking is about creating mutually beneficial relationships built on trust, understanding each other, and a desire to help each other.

For several years we have hosted viewing parties for TV shows that several of us have wanted to watch together. In some years there are 2-3 shows that the group wants to watch, so several people record several of the shows.

Before we created SureToMeet, it was hard to schedule several weeks of viewing parties. It was almost funny watching the host on his cell phone and landline phone talking to two people while he was IMing someone else!

Now, each person’s comments on the event page create a temporary “community” as they keep updating their notes about which shows they’re bringing, plans for food, etc.

We recently saw the pilots for several new TV shows. We chose the first show of the new season that we all want to watch; and we’ll pick another soon, I’m sure. Viewing parties have been a great way to nurture friendships. Ask several friends and acquaintances which new TV show they like, then host a party each week and watch it together.

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