Branding, Curating, Influencing, Uncategorized

Your firm needs an awesomely helpful unmarketing plan

For Scott Stratten, the term unmarketing describes how social engagement can be used to turn traditional marketing on its head.

To illustrate this point, he tells a story about a cherished stuffed animal named “Joshie” that was left behind by child at a Ritz Carlton Hotel. Not only was the stuffed animal found and returned, but the hotel staff created a whole back story about all the fun that Joshie had while he was missing. What could have been a minor disaster in a child’s life was transformed into an awesome branding experience for the hotel. Read Chris Hurn’s account and/or watch for yourself as Scott retells it.

The takeway here is this: every business has natural networks (clients, customers, and their friends and acquaintances) that need to be activated by using remarkable content and engaging individuals in genuinely helpful and generous ways.

What is your natural network?

Every organization has business leaders and each of these people have their own natural social networks.

People tend to have a LinkedIn network for their business contacts that they’ve accumulated over the years. It’s also common for people to have a Facebook network of personal connections. More advanced digital/social types may also have a Twitter account with followers, as well as perhaps a Pinterest and Instagram account.

The term “reach” refers to an individual’s ability to use their networks cumulatively to communicate ideas or distribute information.

Each business needs to leverage the collective reach of its leaders’ networks

In many professional businesses, sales opportunities are commonly driven by the following activities:

  • repeat business from satisfied customers;
  • new business opportunities from satisfied customer referrals;
  • general networking and community involvement (non-profit boards are great for building new business relationships); and
  • effective marketing of areas of expertise and specialty.

Developing your natural networks in online social networking sites can be a great way to leverage these types of sale opportunities.

Let’s say there are 10 business leaders in your professional services firm that each have 150 people* in their LinkedIn networks. That means there is a natural network of 1,500 primary contacts (some of which overlap) collectively within the firm.

Here’s where the network effect kicks in. Each of those 1,500 primary business contacts also has 150 of their own contacts that are now one step removed from your firm’s natural network. Even if only a tiny percentage of those 225,000 individuals are qualified prospects for your services, that’s still a lot of prospects that are one introduction or one referral away from someone you’re already connected to.

Attract business by being awesomely helpful in social networks

The reason Chris Hurd and Scott Stratten shared the Joshie story is because it was an awesome experience. It went beyond merely helpful and became something they wanted to share with their friends and associates.

In order to leverage the latent value in your networks, you should avoid anything resembling traditional marketing. Instead, you should do unmarketing and focus on activities that create value for your networks and visibility for you.

Some examples include:

1. Curate – Find and share great content that helps your connections and they will share your content with others in their network.

2. Give, share and help – Doesn’t really matter what the topic is, if you are consistently giving, sharing and helping others in your networks, you will receive reciprocal goodwill. People do business with people they know, like and trust.

3. Create – Produce content that communicates your firm’s knowledge and values. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” (Simon Sinek)

Strive to create opportunities for people to say good things about you in their networks and you cannot but succeed.

* In trying to estimate the average size of social networks, I made some assumptions. First, I found references to the average LinkedIn network size of 60 people here and then a broader calculation of average total contacts of 634 across all networks here. In my experience, it is easy to get connected to a few hundred people in your normal business life if you just make it a habit of connecting on LinkedIn with each business contact that you meet. So I picked 150 as an average for the purposes of the calculation.

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