Seth Godin wrote, “The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.”
Three years! Even before the product is made the marketing engine has to be humming. And Seth’s advice goes beyond book publishing. Almost every product or service can leverage his advice.
Building relationships early and often is the difference between creating demand for your services, and competing for existing customers. It’s the difference between always having enough sales, and struggling to keep your funnel full.
Creating demand versus servicing demand
Google is an extremely powerful marketing tool, because it connects companies with active shoppers. If you’re in the path of search you can generate solid leads. But being in the path of search is not generating demand, it’s servicing it. These are customers with a clear need, and they are looking for their options.
On the other hand, if you want to build demand for your services you’ve got to initiate customer relationships far sooner. For example, if you’re introducing a new product or service to market, you can bet customers aren’t searching Google for you. They don’t know your service exists yet. They may not have even considered your solution before. The only way to connect with customers in these situations is to build awareness and educate your market so they know to look for you.
Find your Point of Sharing™
The challenge of building demand and connecting with your customers three years before they need you is what to talk about.
Traditional sales and marketing messages will not work on a non-buying audience. If your target customers aren’t buying, they’re not listening to your marketing. To break through the clutter find a Point of Sharing™ with your market.
A Point of Sharing™ is a shared interest, a shared experience or a shared value you have with your prospects and customers. It’s the connective glue that helps you build a relationship three years before there is a buying need.
For example, supporting and investing in a cause is a way of using a shared value to connect with your market. Your company may be passionate about green energy or greening your business, and can leverage that interest and expertise to connect with like-minded professionals. Instead of marketing your services, you connect and communicate through a Point of Sharing™ that allows for new relationships to form and grow.
Relationships accelerate the sales process
When you connect and build a relationship with your customers before they need you, they’ll seek you out when they’re ready to buy. Relationships accelerate the sales process. When the time is right, your customers will call you because they know who you are, they understand and relate to your values, and they like you. That connection will help you rise above “selling” to them, and enable you to work with them to solve a problem.
Start the process now. Invest in your community and invest in your relationships, because it will come back to you in more opportunities and better customers to grow your business.