If you've struggled reaching your prospects via traditional marketing, it might be time to try something new. How about starting a lemonade stand?
OK, not literally - but work with me on this analogy.
Imagine you're calling on a C-level executive who works in a fancy, high-rise building downtown. You've tried cold calling but can't get past the receptionist. You've sent direct mail but have no way of knowing if they've seen your message. This is where the lemonade stand comes into play.
Imagine if you could set up a lemonade stand in the lobby of that fancy, high-rise building that your prospect works. You offer free lemonade to all passers-by. Eventually word spreads about "the guy offering free lemonade in the lobby" and traffic to your lemonade stand increases. Your stand becomes a place for professionals in the building to congregate during their break and partake in "water cooler talk." Mixed in these conversations are small discussions about work - each expert offering free advice to the group about their area of expertise - you included.
Now imagine that one of the "regulars" at your lemonade stand was a colleague of your prospect. He tells your prospect about the lemonade stand and how he's impressed with the knowledge the stand owner has about "lemons" (fill in your product/service here). Based on the recommendation of his trusted colleague, your prospect decides to stop by your lemonade stand - after all, it won't cost him anything and it's conveniently located in the lobby of his building.
So, what's the moral of this story? The point I'm trying to make is that if you create a place that people WANT to visit, your prospect may eventually FIND YOU! That's where the fundamentals of inbound marketing are rooted - create valuable content that people (and search engines) find at a time and place that's convenient for them.
That hypothetical lemonade stand could be LinkedIn (or Facebook). The free lemonade you're offering could be free e-books, whitepapers or blog posts that offer valuable information about something that your prospect is interested in (ie: "10 tips for using social media to increase sales leads").
By offering valuable information for free, you're showing thought leadership and selling yourself in a "non-salesy" way. This builds trust with your prospect, which can break down any of the barriers you faced in the past and increases the likelihood that you'll finally have that dialogue you were looking for with your prospect.
That valuable content is what's going to get people in your industry talking about you, making it more likely that your message will grow via word-of-mouth - which is exactly what you want to happen!
Get started building your lemonade stand with these simple steps:
Blogging is a great and easy way to regularly publish content about your areas of expertise. Google loves fresh, unique content and will reward you by eventually moving your site up in the organic listings - which is where roughly 75% of searchers click.
GET ACTIVE ON LINKEDIN
If you haven't set up a LinkedIn account, please take the time to do it. For those with LinkedIn accounts, make sure your profile is optimized so that people can find you via industry-related keywords. Join a LinkedIn Group and get involved in discussions. Be sure you're offering value. Don't be salesy. Be sure the group you're involved in has the potential to generate business for you.
READ AND COMMENT ON INDUSTRY-RELATED BLOGS
Expand your online reach and keep up on trends by reading industry-related blogs. Offer thought-filled comments when you can. This can extend the value of that blog post and get the attention of the author and existing readers. If done correctly, this can open the doors for additional opportunities (ie: guest blog post on an industry blog or being featured in the upcoming e-newsletter).
With these tools in hand, get out there and build your lemonade stand and when you run into road blocks with prospects, use this as an opportunity to turn lemons into a lemonade stand.
What strategies have you found to be successful in reaching your prospects? Feel free to share in the comments section below.