If you're like many of my clients, you struggle with what you have to do to generate a phone call. Let's assume you're getting 500 visits to your site in a month. Do you know how many clients that is actually generating. No matter what your answer, it can always be more!
Perhaps it's time to revisit my absolute favorite book about the internet. This book was written in 1999 and was both prophetic and mis-understood at the time. I don't think we we're ready to understand it. It's time!
"A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies...These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can't be faked.
Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.
As I'm visiting one of my clients - a local jeweler in Dayton Ohio, we meet in a small cozy room, the same room where he sits with clients. The room accomodates three people, has a small granite top table, a computer monitor, mouse and keyboard. The discussion is casual, direct and personal. He can pull up CAD designs on the monitor when he needs to but his interest is in the person. The design will come from that. Imagine the difference this makes to a client shopping for an engagement ring.
Conversations on the web are like that. They are personal and they are individual. These companies don't have "target markets" they have conversations with people. And believe it or not, there are ways to engage with these individuals in real, meaningful ways without costing you so much time that you can't carry on your business efficiently. I'm not suggesting for example that your conversations are such that they remove you from the your daily business conduct. In fact, they engage you in daily business conduct. They help you understand the market. They help the market understand you. People still buy from people and people will only listen to people who listen back.
Conversations don't have to be about your business. Engage in Facebook. Your business page banner and logo should be enough to trigger a thought in the person who at some point needs your products and services. When you initiate a conversation and it does have relevance to your business - you better not be selling. Here's another couple of quotes from Clue Train..
"People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products. "
"Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone."
As my company has grown, I have learned more from my clients than I could ever have imagined. Our monthly meetings are brainstorms, mutual planning, division of responsiblity and execution. And the conversation is always different from month to month and from client to client. I love my job!