Our Thinking

Is Social Networking supposed to sell?

Consider these Tipsheets: there are over 350 of them, and they certainly don’t “sell” anything.  Each week, I give away a small nugget of information, and tie it to an immediate action.  These non-salesy Tipsheets, like the vast majority of blogs, are designed to credentialize expertise and build trust, slowly over time.

Interestingly, I recently received an email from a reader saying that he was about to unsubscribe, but he wanted to give me “a chance” and explain why in person.  As this reader was in the same city as I was, I took him up on his offer to meet for a coffee.  Social Networking translated into real-world networking.

Beyond the introductions and pleasantries, what I received was a high-pressure sales pitch for their marketing services.  As the service wasn’t needed, the meeting ended relatively quickly.  There was no follow-up email post-meeting.  And a few weeks later this person unsubscribed.  (It’s ironic – he is the one that needs to see this post!)

Lessons learned:

  • Developing relationships takes time, both in the real world and in Social Media.  Trying to make a quick sale over coffee is great if you’re selling coffee, but bad if you’re selling something more complex – like anything.
  • Bait-and-Switch is a bad networking strategy.  If the invitation to meet is for one purpose, don’t trot out something different.
  • A blog is a great place to develop and explore ideas over a longer term.  And in so doing, a blog is also a great place to develop trust.
  • Follow-up after a network meeting is critical.  Like the blog, a real-life meeting and a follow-up email are merely steps up the relationship curve.

Social Media can be used to sell, but one of the most effective strategies has to be Give to Get;  the sale will take place, but only when you’ve demonstrated your expertise, earned the trust, and the buyer is ready to buy – which may take years.

This week’s action plan:  Where does your blog fit on the sell/no-sell continuum?  If you’re not happy with it there, make a change.  If you don’t blog, look back at your favorite blog (besides this one!) and evaluate it: where does it fit on the continuum?  And how would you feel if it was changed?

This post has been written by 108’s Senior Advisor and former CEO Randall Craig.

For information on our upcoming events, click on the links below:

Competing with Free: Winning the War in the Marketplace of ideas –  July 16, 2014 (No-cost webinar)