In Inbound Marketing, Marketing Strategy

Desperate. It’s not a word with positive connotations. And maybe you don’t realize that “desperate” is what you are exuding with some of your marketing tactics.

In a breakout session I attended at the Hubspot 2014 conference, Phil Harrell, the VP of Hubspot’s corporate division, talked about why marketing to prospects in any industry is a lot like dating. Let me explain…

Think of the “reality” show The Bachelor. You have an impossibly good-looking guy who is asked to whittle down a bevy of impossibly good-looking women to find “the one.” He has lots of choices and full-control over the decision process. And he can go on lots of dates to determine who the best match for him is. Sounds a lot like the process used by today’s buyer…they have lots of options to select from, can gather information easily (thanks to the web), and have complete autonomy in the buying process…they are in the driver’s seat! Keep this in mind as you devise your marketing tactics.

How your marketing could be like a bad date…

  • There’s no “I” in “prospect”

    Have you been on a date with the guy or gal who talks incessantly about themselves? If your marketing uses all I’s and my’s, you may want to consider asking your prospect a question or ten to find out about them and what exactly they are looking for, their challenges, their goals.

  • bad-dateSlow it down

    Coming on too strong is a no-no on a first date…I hardly know you! Is your website using phrases like “Buy now!” and “Start your free 30-day trial!”? It’s the equivalent of proposing marriage on the first date. You’re gonna scare off your prospect if you ask them to commit so soon.

  • Keep your cool

    Similarly, awkwardness is a big turn-off on a date. Asking too many questions can be as bad as not asking any. Are you making the mistake of assuming that just because someone visits your website, they must be really interested in buying your product or service? Are you coming across as awkward and desperate by asking new site visitors for too much information in your online form? Be cool. Balance the listening and the inquiry…this is a conversation, not an interview.

  • Don’t be a stalker

    Texting and calling multiple times a day when you have just met someone? That’s a surefire way to get a restraining order. Same goes for marketing. Stop sending so many annoying emails! Use email wisely and respect the time it takes to warm up to people.

How to make your marketing like a good date…

  • datingGet acquainted

    When you first meet someone, a low-commitment date is the way to go. Coffee or lunch, perhaps. It lets you find areas of common interest; get to know one another. It’s the “I’m making sure you’re not crazy” phase. This is equivalent to prospects who are at the top of the sales funnel. They are just looking to learn a little more about you to see if they are interested in a second date. So show them that you are a source of helpful information and are a thought leader; show them you understand their problems. Keep them coming back for more by piquing their interest.

  • Be patient

    Let the relationship progress naturally as you learn more about each other and your compatibility. Like dating, prospecting should be a marathon, not a sprint. As your prospects reach the middle of the funnel and the relationship deepens, additional offers (like that free trial) are reasonable to help the prospect determine if they are really interested in your product or service.

  • Seal the deal

    You both love pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. If things progress well, over time, your prospect will hopefully reach the bottom of the sales funnel. Once you have gotten to know each other, feel you are truly compatible and are ready for a commitment, it is time for your prospect to say those four magic words: I want to buy.

Keep in mind: as you go through this courtship with your prospect, you may realize that you are in fact not a good match for each other…maybe you have differing philosophies; maybe your product or service doesn’t quite meet their needs; maybe your personalities are incompatible. It’s okay to let go of a prospect if it just isn’t a good fit for either of you. As your mom told you: there are other fish in the sea.

A lasting union

gooddateIn business, as in life, we all just want to be understood. We want someone who understands our fears, our needs, our challenges. A partner we can trust. We want to find someone we can connect with and who makes us feel important. So when prospecting, who do you want to be? Ron Burgundy from Anchorman (“I’m kind of a big deal. People know me.”), or Jerry McGuire (“Your complete me.”)? Go from unappealing to irresistible by ensuring your marketing efforts center around your potential customer’s needs, goals and challenges. Soon, you may just find that prospects are knocking down your door!

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