How to get new clients?

I saw this question posted on Reddit (Question: Any tips on getting new clients? ), and thought my response could be useful to more people as a blog post, so here goes.

Find their watering holes and showcase yourself there

watering-holesIf you know who your potential clients are, the best way to attract them is to go where they frequent.

FREE Report: 6 WAYS TO FIND YOUR AUDIENCES WATERING HOLES

When I used to do technology consulting, I found the maximum new clients by going where they go – “Technology Conferences”.

I would often speak at technology conferences or technology community events.

Invariably, after my session I’d be interacting with people who had questions about the topic I spoke on or about further advanced topics.

We exchanged business cards with each other and provided each other a means to connect. (This is important enabling each other to connect)

In fact quite often they wanted a copy of the presentation(this hook’s them to you) and would share their business cards with me after the presentation so that I would share the presentation with them. (Enabling this exchange is critical!)

Regularly speaking at these conference helped increase my credibility and enabled me to reach out to a lot of potential new clients at the same time.

But then came the Internet and a very costly lesson

I kind of replicated online what I did in the real world. I recorded a video on social media and communities and their impact on corporate communication and distributed it on YouTube.

It had thousands of people viewing it. BUT…

I didn’t enable them to share their contact data with me. I didn’t give them a reason.

Obviously people could like and share the video and even comment on the video. There was also a link to my blog in the video and in the description. I just didn’t tell them what they’d get.

What could I give? (VALUE: The Hook is important) Even something as simple as –

valueexchangeSign up here to get a powerpoint presentation of this video for quick reference (and get notified when I create such new content) would have been something of value to quite a few.

It would have encouraged them to exchange their contact information with me. It seems logical now.

However, at that time all I gave them was a lame – Read more at my blog…

Action Steps to Get New Clients

  1. Find their watering holes, i.e. places where they hang out,
  2. Showcase yourself there and
  3. Most important give them a reason(VALUE) to give their contact information to you. Give them something they’d consider valuable, in exchange for their contact information.
  4. Download NOW

    FREE Report: 6 WAYS TO FIND YOUR AUDIENCES WATERING HOLES

References: The video I had created was about “How community and social media changed corporate communication” – and it has 14600+ views as on today 🙂

Key Elements for Building a Content Strategy

Creating a Content Strategy can be confusing. People often get confused between Content Strategy V/S Content Marketing

Altimeter Group’s recent Research report on “Key Elements for Building a Content Strategy” is an interesting read. However, I felt that a little more detailing would help.

I’ve created a graphic below to explain the key elements in more detail.

Creating a Content Strategy requires 4 elements

  1. Content Vision
  2. Content Strategy
  3. Content Development
  4. Content Marketing

Key Elements for Building a Content Strategy

Failing at Social Business? This could be why

Top 3 Social Media Mistakes

Mistake #1: Content Creation

Yes I know it sounds strange. However, it is so easy to create content on social media that people just dive in and create lots of content. They have a content calendar and various kinds of content, but sadly no ROI.

Mistake #2: Confusing Content Strategy with Content Marketing

Content Strategy vs Content Marketing

Strategy is about figuring out what to do, rather than the act of doing(creating) which is distinctly different from the act of marketing the content you have created.

Mistake #3: Social Media Measurement i.e. Measuring the wrong things v/s Key Performance Indicators

We get excited looking at the number of comments, on a post, excited about engagement and even driving engagement at the cost of achieving business objectives. This happens because one mixes up Social media metrics and business metrics (KPI).

Succeeding at Social Media: The three key elements

The first element in a winning Social, Digital marketing strategy is defining the business objectives.

The second element is to know how to create the right strategy to meet those business objectives

  • Who are you targeting?
  • Start with the end in mind.

The third element is monitoring KPIs(Key Performance Indicators) to know that you’re on track to achieve the business objectives.

After the above 3 things elements are figured out, you then go about the actual job of doing/creating – content, defining campaigns, engagement strategy, influencer, advocate, community engagement etc.

Wanna Succeed at the Above? Get the Report on Succeeding at Social Business

How to build your brand advocacy program?

Can you imagine constructing a 20 storey building without a blueprint?

Who needs a blueprint

Obviously not! However, most people go off building a brand advocacy program which might involve thousands of brand advocates just like that!

What is a framework?

The basic structure of something : a set of ideas or facts that provide support for something

The RIDE Framework

The RIDE framework helps you define a brand advocacy program that is unique to your organization. It contains a set of ideas which will help provide the necessary support for your brand advocacy initiative.

It provides a systematic approach to to creating a brand advocacy program.

Why use the RIDE framework?

Most organizations have their own ways of doing things and culture. The RIDE framework provides a  system that you can use and is flexible allowing you you to prioritize based on your situation and company.

What are the Components of the R.I.D.E framework?

It helps you think about the essential pieces which are needed for any successful brand advocacy program.

  • Rewards and Recognition – What’s in it for the brand advocates how are you going to provide them recognition
  • Impact Measurement – What’s the program doing for you, is it helping the organization
  • Discovery – Where and how do you find and discover your brand advocates
  • The 3 E’s – How to Evangelize, Empower and Engage your brand advocates

The hidden step 1 – Define your business objective?

There is a first step in creating your brand advocacy program. It’s about determining why you need it, how it’s going to help the organization. This is often the most critical part. Having a clear business objective ensures long term success of the advocacy program.

RIDE - The Brand Advocacy Framework

Is there a step 0?

Yes. Listening. Often the best way to think about your program, is to start by first listening to the conversations, and examining the content put out by your brand advocates.

More often that not this will help you to get important nuggets proving the necessity of the program. It gives great insight into the needs and issues faced by your customer and helps you see how your brand advocates are filling in gaps which you might not be addressing correctly.

Just like you can’t go about constructing a 20 storey building without a blueprint, the RIDE framework helps you to think through the essential elements necessary for a successful brand advocacy program.

Get started now

Video: How to build a brand advocacy program – Video covers the RIDE framework
Book: Brand Advocacy Book

How to reduce customer support costs the easy way: Brand Advocates

How to leverage brand advocates to reduce your customer support costs?

Customer Support

Within 48 hours of the Windows 10 launch, he provided about 712 answers regarding the launch and adoption of Windows 10 – he was not an employee of Microsoft, he was a passionate brand advocate part of Microsoft’s Brand Advocacy program. (Source).

It’s mind boggling when you think in terms of the customer support cost savings due to just one of these passionate brand advocates. Microsoft currently has approximately 3000 such brand advocates in just one of their advocacy programs. They have many such brand advocacy programs.

Customer Support

Traditionally it used to be the call center where people dial-in and ask their questions, that’s how customer support was provided. It is still the same way many organizations operate.

To reduce the cost of customer support one needs to really embrace the self-service era.

The Self-Service Era

In the Internet/Digital era, people access online support forums, read blogs, attend webcasts, chat with experts maybe over Twitter, raise questions on community sites or via Q&A sites like Quora etc.

Content to Support Customers

In order to meet the needs of this digital era audience one would need to do some or all of the below items:

  • Create tons of content in a variety of formats (Blogs, Presentations, Podcasts, Webcasts…)
  • Establish Support Forums, User Groups/ Communities
  • Enable interactions with Experts

The hard way

The difficult way of going about creating these interactions is by creating all the content yourself.

The easy way

The easy way is to leverage the power of already existing passionate brand advocates in addition to your corporate initiatives. In fact creating a brand advocacy program which fuels these brand advocates should be a corporate initiative.

Examples

When Microsoft was planning it’s Windows 10 product, it took the path of involving it’s most passionate customers. It publicly launched an advocacy program inviting thousands of it’s customers to participate –

With the Insider program, we’re inviting our most enthusiastic Windows customers to shape Windows 10 with us. We know they’re a vocal bunch – and we’re looking forward to hearing from them.

– Source blogs.windows.com

They were looking for people who’re vocal in terms of providing feedback to the company. In exchange they provided them early access, this ensured that they got a bunch of motivated experts on the product much before the actual product launch.

What would these experts do? (Besides providing feedback to Microsoft) They would share their expertise with others.

What were the steps they took:

  • Invited people to get early access
  • Took their feedback (Improved their product in the bargain)
  • Got a bunch of motivated experts who naturally evolved to helping solve customer queries

That’s exactly what happened with the person who provided about 712 answers regarding the launch and adoption of Windows 10. He was a passionate brand advocate who was involved with the program, partly due to his passion and interest and because Microsoft created a program and platform enabling him and others like him to participate.

Create a platform for brand advocates to engage with you and your customers

As an organization they provided a platform for brand advocates to actively engage and support other customers. http://answers.microsoft.com/

Here you will find that customer queries are answered by a whole host of enthused brand advocates.

The platform enables Microsoft to highlight the top brand advocates as well, based on other customer feedback.

(Badges are awarded for being an active contributor and awesome community member. Over time, good contributors earn a variety of badges.)

But…Will a third party individual know more about my products than my employed customer support personnel?

Surprisingly yes. More often than not I’ve seen brand advocates who’re passionate about a product sticking around to using that product for a much longer time than the employee sticking around in the company. Their passion and sticking around help them often gain far more mastery of the product than the typical customer support executive.

However, there is an easy fix to this problem, where the community itself helps in regulating inefficient responses which are a reality.

What if these brand advocates provide faulty or incorrect information?

One simple fix to this problem is to allow the customers to rate the responses.

For instance on the Microsoft Community Support site users can rate if they found a response helpful.

Community Indicates Usefulness

Start Small

If you’ve not yet started down this path i.e. you don’t have an advocacy program in place, start small.

Pick one activity which will help you go down the path to providing support to other customers.

Whether it’s inviting your brand advocates to contribute content(blogs, presentations etc.), or inviting them to test a product, or establish a support forum or a group on social media, and enable interactions with brand advocates. (Simultaneously work on creating your own brand advocacy program.)

The small wins will help you get the necessary corporate support to evolve a larger program resulting in much larger cost savings in customer support.

I would love to hear from you if you have stories on how Brand Advocates have helped other customers. Do share in the comments below.

Get and Retain More Customers with Low or Shrinking Budgets – via Brand Advocates | Using Digital, Social Media, Communities, Technology and Visual Thinking