Establishing & maintaining rapport with your online audience is perhaps the single most important ingredient in marketing online. Actually in marketing period, but even more so online because of the lack of personal contact. Rapport is at the core of selling, always has been, always will be.
Let me tell you a little story.
Earlier this week, I got a call from a salesman after leaving a message about getting my stereo repaired. My expensive, but aging Nakamichi CD player is on the fritz, & Im virtually tuneless. Not good.
It was a notable conversation for anybody interested in the art & science of persuasion. And in particular, the role rapport plays in that process.
My apprehension was this.
I bought the unit about 8 years ago, & Im thinking. OK, this is going to cost me some money. I could probably now go out & buy a new CD player for the same amount. Just getting an estimate is going to cost me.
So the guy calls up, & immediately starts building rapport with me. How does he do it?
After introducing himself, he says, So youve got an MB-1s, awesome unit, what do you listen to? I tell him, Im into rhythm & blues & jazz. He probes a little to see what kind of blues I dig, & we find ourselves rapping for a bit about how much we both love the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan.
And then without missing a beat, he says So I suppose youre wondering whether technology has advanced so far in 8 years that you could replace your MB-1s with a new unit for pennies on the dollar?
I say, yes.
And then he goes on to tell me. Unless youre prepared to fork out a sizable chunk of change on a relatively high end unit, your going to lose some of the raw analog warmth & character that oozes faithfully from Stevies Fender Stratocaster every time you slide a CD into that Nakamichi.
And Im like, Wow, thanks for saving my life dude.
This wasnt the only guy I called, but I can tell you this. He was the only one I considered doing business with. And it came down to the rapport he created.
So what can we learn from this?
First off, let me point out that while this was a personal interaction, you should take the principle of rapport very seriously when it comes to your marketing.
The fundamentals are thus.
I liked this guy. Because I liked him, I listened to him. Because I listened to him, I believed him. And because I believed him, I bought from him. Sure it wasnt a huge purchase. But what happened in those few minutes on the telephone takes place in virtually every sale you make, whether youre an active participant in the process, or not.
You are developing an unspoken relationship with your customers, as a result of both your personal interaction, & every piece of online marketing you deliver.
The challenge is this. How do you generate rapport, when you dont have the expensive luxury of personal contact with all of your clients at every stage of the buying cycle?
Here are a few ideas.
1) Be a person in your online marketing. Far too many businesses make the dreadful mistake of coming off as stuffy, corporate, & boring, in the name of professionalism. Your business can be professional, & still have character.
This is just as true in b2b & technical sales, as it is in consumer sales.
One of the best things you can do is deliver your marketing message in the first person. You should voice a friendly, rapport-building persona in virtually every kind of direct response advertising you do.
2) Communicate with your prospects, in their own words. If youre marketing to engineers, & you know they use acronyms, use acronyms. If youre selling to the CEO, speak in plain English. Just common sense, but so often ignored. If youre selling b2b, understand that there are multiple decision makers involved. Find a way to speak to them all. Use multiple campaigns if need be.
3) And finally, give your customers more than they expect. It is rare to do business with a company that demonstrates a genuine concern for the actual outcomes that their customers experience as a result of a purchase.
This is very different than simply being committed to the satisfactory performance of your product or service. You build rapport by showing your prospects exactly how what youre selling fits in to what they are already doing.
In the final analysis, your prospects & customers should feel like they know you as a person from your marketing & advertising. More importantly, they should know you as the kind of person they would call a friend, & look forward to hearing from.