“If you want to increase your reach, build an amusement park; if you want to go deep, create a cause.”
~ Debra Hilton
The Moral of the Story is…
Some years ago, I watched a fascinating episode of “Grand Designs” (TV show beloved by architects and aspirational home owners) during which a couple’s new home grew from large to monstrously large and from ambitious to impossible. They started with a dream, a view, the goodwill of their builder and tradesmen, and plenty of money (but no real budget); and ended with frustration, angry builders and tradesmen, debt, and less of a view. From the moment they owners said, “We don’t really have a budget.” And “We have a general idea, but we know we’ll get ideas as we see things develop.” You knew where the episode was heading… And it didn’t disappoint us because if you start executing a big project with ‘a general idea’ – you end up in a mess!
Funnily enough, business owners do this with their marketing, too, and then they are disappointed by the outcomes of their actions and investment.
“Start with the End in Mind”
Steven Covey’s famous advice applies to your marketing efforts as well as just about every other initiative.
The most important question you can ask is: What is the purpose of this campaign or collateral? Once you have answered that question, you can more easily answer all the other questions that will occur to you.
The first segmentation involves deciding whether you are trying to:
- Build Bridges to the outside (lead generation); or
- Tighten Bonds within your community (nurture and stickiness)
Occasionally, you can do both at the same time, but usually you are primarily doing one or the other.
Sometimes this process is called ‘Attracting Attention’ but I prefer the term ‘Building Bridges’ because it conveys the idea of expanding communication and trust which is your goal in lead generation.
A public protest or demonstration attracts attention (and can be useful for tightening bonds), but it doesn’t really build bridges and engage people who are not yet part of your circle. The most effective way of building bridges is to speak to the broader issues and questions that are burning in your prospects mind.
You can do this by:
- Showcasing your insider knowledge and expertise;
- Stoking their fears, anxiety, and anger about the problem;
- Raising important questions they need to answer;
- Offering a compelling vision of an alternative future;
- Delivering them from uncertainty, fear, and powerlessness…
It’s like an amusement park that draws people in with loud music, bright flashing lights, and the promise of adventure. They walk in the gate and taste as many experiences as possible and then they come back for a second go at their favourites.
When you use these techniques effectively to build bridges with the wider world, your prospective clients seek you out and they show up on your doorstep predisposed to accept your solution.
You’ve probably already realised the challenge you face in executing this strategy:
You need to know your market thoroughly.
And THAT is precisely where your second bucket can help you.
A customer or client is just that… a customer or client.
Unless… You tighten the bonds between them and you, and (often) between them and other community members.
Once you tighten the bond between you by delivering value and (even more importantly) demonstrating your understanding of them and their problems, however, you create an eddying swirl that draws them closer to you. In the process, you learn so much about the problems they face, the language they use, and the solutions they really want that your task of building bridges to like-minded people who haven’t yet joined your community becomes easier and easier.