Every day, every minute, every second your customers or prospective customers are bombarded with messages and distractions. They are self-absorbed in their own problems, their own families, their own relationships, their own jobs, their own interests.
If your audience fits your ideal customer profile, your job is to get their attention and be a presence in their mind so that, when they are ready to seek information or to make a purchase of your product or service, they will think of you as the right resource.
There are many ways to do this.
The most expensive and the most wasteful, since it’s untargeted, is to have a television advertising campaign. Some television ads are shown constantly, sometimes repeated immediately after they are shown. Automobile insurance ads for Liberty Mutual, Geico, State Farm, Allstate, and Progressive come to mind. These are appropriate to promote consumer products or services to very broad-based markets.
There are many other “mind-capture” techniques that are more appropriate and affordable for businesses that appeal to more targeted markets.
When using different “mind-capture” techniques, you want to be positioned as a “welcome guest.” Whatever you do isn’t going to be accepted by prospective customers if it doesn’t relate to them and they don’t see you as a trusted friend. If they don’t like you, trust you, and see what you are offering relates to them, they won’t care, might be annoyed, or might just ignore or disregard you. In other words, you will be an “unwelcome pest” and your efforts will be wasted.
Here is a smorgasbord of things that can be done to stay front of mind. Some are inexpensive and simple, some more expensive and complex.
- Swag. Swag includes brand-enhancing items that are desirable or useful. In my office, I have a bobble-head Dan Kennedy doll, a mouse pad with Dan Kennedy’s Power Points, and a Mickey Mouse doll (from travel affiliate Get Away Today). When I see these items (every day), I’m reminded of these business associates. Those items you bought your children or grandchildren in the gift shop at Disneyland or Walt Disney World are a constant reminder for the next family vacation to the Magic Kingdom, Disney/Marvel/Lucasfilm/Pixar films, etc.
- Gifts. If you offer a high-ticket product or service that justifies it, giving appropriate, useful gifts makes you memorable. Whenever the person who receives the gift uses it, he or she will think of you. Making gifts also creates a desire for reciprocity, to return the favor somehow.
- Communications by email, phone, text and mail. Notice how your doctor and dentist are now sending reminders by text? It’s essential for every business to have up-to-date lists of contact information for customers, prospective customers, and centers of influence/referral sources. Some of these communications can now be automated, including chatbots and voice chat. Properly designed automated communications provide more engagement than simply reading a web page.
- Authored, guest-authored or branded books. Unlike most “junk mail”, books are often seen as valuable and kept – hopefully on your customer’s desk or bookshelf where they can be regularly seen, even if they aren’t read.
- DVDs, CDs, online video and recordings. Physical objects are valued more than digital content, but both of these provide opportunities for connection. A DVD is viewed something like a television show or movie, so it conveys extra impact and authority.
- Retargeted ads. With social media ads and web-search ads now available as targeted and more cost-effective than “big media” ads, they can be directed to visitors to certain web sites and based on comments and “likes” on social media. This is done using a “pixel” or piece of computer code. This technique is being somewhat curtailed by requiring an “opt in” with Apple iOS 14.5. Nonetheless, it’s a very useful technique to have ads “follow” individuals who have expressed an interest in a problem or an experience.
- Publicity. There are many forms of publicity that establishes authority in the eyes of the public and pride for your family, friends and customers. Television interviews are most impressive. When Oprah had her show, being interviewed by her was like a golden key. Talk radio is hungry for guests. Newspapers and magazines are also searching for content for their readers. Capturing clippings and recordings of these events give them long lives, and makes great web page content.
- Guest articles/blog posts/book chapters. Content provided for others establishes authority and can be repurposed. You can provide guest chapters to others’ books and invite them to provide a guest chapter in yours. This helps expand the built-in audience of people likely to buy the book. A similar strategy applies for blog posts and guest articles in other business’s newsletters. It’s a way to get access to a bigger audience.
- Your own regular blog, podcast, newspaper/magazine column, television and/or radio show. Having a regular media appearance establishes you as a celebrity and establishes authority. (I had a public-access television show for many years. The episodes are posted on YouTube under financialinsiderweek.) You also “borrow” credibility from your guests.
- Be a guest on podcasts, video broadcasts of others. This is another way to “borrow” credibility, establish authority, and get access to a bigger audience.
- Your newsletter. A regular newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with your audience. A paper newsletter is best, because physical objects are more valued than digital ones, and the mail boxes of your audience is much less cluttered than their email inboxes. They also keep paper newsletters longer and are more likely to keep them. Some will even collect them. The key is to make the newsletter fun and personal. Share your personal stories, and personal stories of your team members and your customers. Include harmless company gossip. (Congratulations to Tom and Sarah on the arrival of their baby girl! With a picture of the baby.) Case stories of the transformation a customer experienced from your product or service are the best content. How about a guest article from a center of influence/referral source? Remember to include pictures and/or cartoons for visual appeal. Inserts for your latest offer can be included in the envelope.
- Your own magazine. Oprah created her own magazine. You can too. A lot of work, and a great way to build a community.
- Public speaking. Giving presentations to your community are a great way to establish authority and visibility. It can also provide an opportunity to build your mailing list and to extend an offer to your audience, such as a DVD course at the back of the room, an invitation to a seminar or webinar, or a subscription to your newsletter. Giving a TED talk is a great way to establish authority.
- In-person or web conferences/coaching. Group problem-solving meetings have been widely used since early civilization. With the proliferation of applications like GoToMeeting and Zoom, it’s now easy to have video conferences on the web. You can build your community by leading regularly scheduled meetings, and can charge for the service. Current popular names for this are a Mastermind or group coaching. This provides an opportunity for members to have “hot seats” where everyone on the call can provide suggestions for solving a member’s problems.
- Social media. Social media has provided an opportunity to make global connections. It can be dangerous because it can suck up your time with very little payback. Businesses can use it most effectively by establishing communities with business pages and group pages and with paid, targeted advertising. Like anything else, it takes regular effort to build an audience.
Most people now use social media on their smart phones. That is an important consideration for formatting posts. For example, vertically-oriented photos or videos are usually best on social media posts. The initial attention for a post will usually be on an image (photo.) The photo should be appropriate for the business and the audience. Having an image that doesn’t relate to the business or subject can be annoying and lead to being “unfollowed” or “unfriended”.
Think of social media as a cocktail party. Users aren’t coming for a sales pitch; they are coming to be entertained. Most of your content should be personal, entertaining or informational, highlighting a transformation (I was broke, now I’m affluent) or solving a problem.
The text should usually be short with a link available to get more information if the reader is interested.
Many posts can be repurposed to multiple platforms, or cross-linked. (Such as linking to a YouTube video from Facebook.) Different platforms tend to appeal to different groups, such as Facebook for age 40+, Instagram for under 40, LinkedIn for businesses, YouTube for video, TikTok for teens’ mobile video, etc. (Sorry if I missed your favorite!) With time, their audiences are becoming broader and more mainstream. The major social media platforms are encouraging video posts and live video broadcasts. Each platform has rules that you should study, because violating them will get you blocked.
Hashtags (#) are very important on social media. They are used to highlight key words in a post and to make posts searchable. You can also use them to get the attention of a subscriber by tagging their name.
Your objective on social media should be to move interested prospective customers to your own list by collecting their contact information. Then you can continue the conversation with emails, texts and letters. (Not spam.) (Especially important because of the risk of being blocked by a social media channel.) This is usually done with an inexpensive or free offer of valuable information or a desirable item in exchange for contact information and consent to communicate. The offer should be included in your profile and some of your posts. Automated conversational messaging using a chatbot has been shown to improve engagement and the likelihood of acceptance of your offer.
A suggested format for your profile headline is “I (We) help (describe ideal customers) (get result) so that (describe transformation).” The headline is included with your comments, so that you give people a REASON WHY they should find out more about you and possibly follow you.
- Greeting cards, personal notes, thank you notes. Sending greeting cards for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays (Thanksgiving is better than Christmas), personal notes (thought you might be interested in this article), and thank you notes are great ways to let your customers know you are thinking of them and they are important to you. This initiates reciprocity of good feelings for you. They should be hand-addressed, hand-signed and have a real postage stamp. (Commemorative stamps are best, except for sympathy cards.)
- Contests, quizzes, surveys. Most people like contests, quizzes and surveys and it’s a great way to create engagement with your community.
- Group activities. Activities that members of your customer community can participate in together are a great way to build group affiliation. Examples could be a customer appreciation dinner, having a guest speaker for your group, a group rafting excursion, a company anniversary party, participating in a charity fundraiser, etc.
- Service clubs, professional associations, charity boards. Participating in service clubs, professional associations, and charity boards can be a way to build relationships with centers of influence and to have community visibility. If customers are also members of the organization, it’s also a bonding experience. Getting new business from participating in them tends to be a long-term proposition.
- Conventions and trade shows. You can have your own convention or trade show as a way to build your community. When you attend others’ conventions, it can be a way to meet prospective customers and centers of influence, especially when you are an exhibitor. Getting the most value from participating requires advance communication with people you know are attending to meet with them, possibly hosting a hospitality room, a way to collect contact information, and follow up after the event.
- Using celebrities. There are many ways to use celebrities to promote your business. For example, they can make a guest appearance at your event or they can be an endorser for your product or service. In the process of doing your promotional activities, you should be establishing yourself as a celebrity in your customers’ eyes. The ideal celebrity is someone your customers and prospective like and trust and is approachable. Think Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres. Most of us can’t afford those examples, but a local retired sports hero, local news reporter, or a popular actor in a discontinued television series or who hasn’t made a movie in a while could also be effective and affordable.
Practicing mind capture is a big job. Since it is a big job, most of your competitors won’t do it.
If you do, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
It’s unlikely you will do ALL of these things. You should do SOME of them, and the more of them you do consistently, the more minds you will capture.
There are service providers who you can pay to help in your efforts, such as copywriters to write or ghost-write ads, sales letters, articles, blog posts, guest articles, guest book chapters and books; event organizers; video recording services, video editors; organizers for Zoom or GoToMeeting video events, and social media consultants.
Would you like my help walking through this process? Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an initial consultation.