Transparency means showing others who you are – by being yourself, open and honest. Your actions and communications give people a clue about your honesty and integrity. It helps them decide whether they want to do business with you.
Social media is a fantastic tool for showing people who you are.
A face-to-face (F2F) situation can only provide real-time information about someone. To get a grasp on a person’s character in a F2F situation requires watching people act and react over time. Furthermore, people can be on their best behavior for the length of a meeting.
Social media, on the flip side, has a long memory in its history of people’s actions. It’s hard to fake or be on your best behavior in your social media interactions over a long time, which means you can get a very good picture of someone pretty quickly.
Getting to know you
Others can get a bit of history by glancing at your social media profile and updates. Use that to give people insight into who you are, and make sure they see what you want to show them.
True — like in F2F — you can monitor yourself by controlling what you share online. However, the more you interact online, the more likely you’ll reveal your character traits. Staying all business all the time will have the opposite effect because there’s little personality and authenticity.
Think about a potential business that interests you. Check out the company and employees’ profiles on different social media networks to learn more about them. Then study their updates and actions for more insights. As you do this, note anything interesting so you can apply it to your own profile.
What social media updates say about you
Your social media posts allow you to show the following things about yourself and your company:
- You’re competent in your area of expertise. You know who is worth listening to in your industry and you share high quality relevant content.
- You’re connected. You are who you say you are, and your connections to clients, prospects, partners and influencers prove it.
- You’re respected. Your connections interact with you and mention you to others.
- You care about quality. You share posts about delivering great customer experiences. You also help clients and prospects by answering questions or solving a problem.
- You show you care by giving back. You share posts about the charities and non-profits you support.
- You’re successful. You share good news on a regular basis, without it sounding like bragging.
- You’re proud of your business. Invite your customers to learn about your employees, processes and pricing, answer tough questions and admit difficult truths. And never, ever lie.
- You have a personal side worth sharing. You share posts about your favorite sports team, authors, hobbies, city and local events. People buy when they feel a connection to others. Talking about things outside of business lets people get to know your personal side. Little by little, others will relate to what you share. And those connections grow.
Joining online conversations backs up your company’s claim that you’re open to feedback and criticism. Customers value this trait. Yet few companies do this. Companies don’t need to be afraid of getting caught making mistakes. Customers forgive mistakes when companies handle them quickly and aptly. Acknowledging a customer implies your company is listening, an important step in gaining trust.
When your actions show you have nothing to hide, you differentiate your company. Be open, communicate regularly and hold your company accountable. Do all this in a professional way with a touch of personality and trust will follow.
Although I’ve worked with many talented designers, there are few I recommend. All of them were responsive at the start of a project. However, as the project progressed, some of their follow-ups to emails, phone calls and requests stretched from hours to days to weeks. They’d miss due dates and leave clients hanging. Yet clients felt stuck with them because it was the middle of the project and it would take too much effort to find another designer to deliver on the company’s vision.
If the client managed to finish the project with the designer, you can bet that designer wouldn’t be invited back or receive referrals. Not only that, but the client will tell friends and colleagues that the person is unreliable. It doesn’t matter if the designer can turn a brand into a rock star. The lack of reliability erased all that. The designer failed a key part of building trust: reliability.
To be reliable means making a promise and delivering on that promise.
The fastest and easiest way to get a relationship off to a strong start is to make a promise and follow through on that promise.
You don’t need to promise the moon. You can make small promises, such as promising to call someone next week. Or saying you will send an article by email as soon as you get back to the office. Or adding someone to a mailing list.
The goal is to create a situation where you can make a promise, and then deliver on that promise. That lets people see that you are reliable.
What most people do
Most people either don’t offer to follow up or they’re vague about how they will follow up. They hedge their bets because they know life happens, and they want to be covered in case things don’t work out.
You can stand out by making a promise with specifics, and then doing what you promise.
Three parts of an effective promise
Successful promises include the following components:
- Choose your promises carefully. Promise something you know you can deliver. Don’t make a promise where you are depending on someone else to do something. Promise something that you are in control of, like sending an email, tweeting or making a phone call.
- Be specific. The more detail you provide, the bigger the chance you have to prove you can deliver. Instead of saying you will email next week, say you will email Monday before 9am.
- Deliver! Do exactly what you said you would. If something goes wrong, and for some reason you can’t deliver as promised, acknowledge it as soon as possible. Apologize, and make another promise (that you can deliver on).
Make promises a regular part of your sales cycle. Every client interaction is an opportunity to make a promise and then follow through. The more often you do this, the more reliability you are showing.
Nothing builds trust better than following up on promises exactly as expected.
The latter involves distributing software to the media, big customers, publishers and trainers who write manuals for the software. That’s an important part of your launch, but before you do that, you want to beta test your marketing approach.
In other words, you want to make sure you are reaching out to the right audience, and saying the things that best convey the value of your software, and are effective at getting people to engage with you.
Beta testing your marketing accomplishes five things:
- Gets market feedback.
- Validates target market.
- Identifies the most effective messaging.
- Expands testing outside your company’s doors.
- Saves money with campaign rollouts.
With market feedback, you learn what the market likes and doesn’t like about your product, and get suggestions for improvement. This process also helps you shape and sharpen your messaging and positioning. It works well for both new and mature businesses.
Involve Your Customers
Since they already use your product or service, include your customers in the beta testing. Sometimes their feedback writes the content and message for you. They may find new uses for your product that no one had considered.
And since you’re in the beta stage, customers are more forgiving of bugs. Because they have an established relationship with you, they’re more likely to share problems and objections during the beta. These known objections will help your sales team and marketing team develop answers (and content) for all objections.
Once you move out of beta, your clients may become the first users of your product and provide early testimonials you can use in your copy. Plus, involving them enriches your relationship.
Connect with Prospects
After the marketing team determines the ideal target market, they connect with them to test different messages and offers. As they receive feedback, marketing continues iterating until it finds a consistent message and target market that responds well.
It’s important to extend your outreach beyond your client base.
Your clients already know you and have been educated about your approach. They may not be fully representative of the market at large.
You won’t know until you test. They might very well be the right market, but the message to the larger market will need tweaking.
Move Ahead with Full Rollout
Once you have confirmed your target market and messaging, then you can move forward with a full rollout knowing that you’ve already gone through a process to iron out the kinks, identify your ideal target market, create the most effective messaging and select the best offer.
You’ve boosted your campaign’s success rate without the risk of doing a full rollout based on no feedback and testing.
In the same way that your beta period allows you to get feedback from real-world users and discover hidden bugs, your beta period should be used to test your marketing and find the bugs there too.
You would never ship a product without testing – you shouldn’t launch expensive marketing campaigns without testing either.
Even if you are absolutely certain you have everything right, there’s no reason not to validate your target market, your messaging, your offer and your pricing strategy. If everything is correct, you’ll have the validation fast and can invest in a big launch with confidence.
If you’re wrong, the earlier you find out, the better. You will be able to make changes early, when it’s less expensive to fix (just like the earlier you find a bug, the less it costs to fix). You won’t waste precious dollars on ineffective marketing – and you won’t waste time, which is often more important then the money.
Early beta is the ideal time to start.
Step 1: Test market segments
Even in a simple market, there are different segments to your target market. We like to choose three to start with. Yours might be CIOs, CTOs and network engineers. Or VP Marketing, VP Sales, VP Product Management.
One group will be more receptive to your product than the others. We’re going to find out which.
Step 2: Test your messaging
Every kind of software does three things:
- Saves time
- Saves money
- Lets you do things you couldn’t do before
So how should you begin your conversation with prospects? Will they be more receptive to saving time or saving money? Or do they want to hear about some of your cool features? We’re going to find out.
Step 3: Develop a test matrix
We like to start with 3 market segments and 4 different messages. That gives us a matrix with 12 test cells, which is an excellent starting point.
Now you need to find 50-100 people for each test cell. We do that on LinkedIn, which has arguably the best people search engine ever.
We send each group the appropriate message, and measure the response rate.
Step 4: Tweak and repeat
As you run these experiments, the data you bring back will spark other ideas for experiments. You’ll change the wording on your messages, you’ll think of new target market segments to try.
You can also run other types of tests:
- Test your offer – Will your prospects respond better to a white paper or webinar?
- Test your pricing – Some price points will convert much better than others.
This marketing testing is amazingly powerful. Once you get started, you will learn so much about your target market and what it takes to get them to engage.
Plus you’ll be generating early leads for your sales force, so when you launch you’ll be able to hit the ground running.
This is a great way to get ready for a highly successful product launch.
What are your tips for marketing testing during beta?
Many people struggle with small talk or feel awkward when simply checking in with someone. It gets old to send a note that says, “Hope this finds you well. Just wanted to check in with you. How are you?”
LinkedIn Contacts is trying to help. LinkedIn has added some new features that remove some of the anxiety that comes with staying in touch with professional contacts. It’s a useful marketing tool, especially for small and one-person businesses.
Here are six stress-free ways to stay in touch using LinkedIn.
1. Send congratulations!
If you opt-in, LinkedIn emails you daily updates on your connections that have a new or changed status. It could be a new job, job anniversary, birthday, promotion or appearance in an article.
Before sending hearty congrats, check your contact’s profile to make sure the change is really news. Some marketing experts are recommending that you change your headline every month or so, just to show up in the update list. If your contact has simply changed the wording, you might want to skip the congratulations – or you could comment on the change and ask if that’s working for them.
For true new or changed jobs, in addition to the congratulations, you have an opportunity to learn what they do on a daily basis and what kind of help or resources they may need, so you can keep an eye out for them and see if you can help. Make a note of their responses in their profile under Relationship. (Only you can see this.) Better yet, schedule a reminder to follow up.
2. Add your regular clients to your profile
LinkedIn adds new features all the time. And one of those allowed people to add clients they work with on a steady basis. Posting one you’ve worked with for a long time allows people who get the updates to see the addition.
They might think you have a new job and send you congratulations. But that actually gives you a good excuse to have a conversation. Write back with a note of thanks, explain you were taking advantage of a new feature (in case they don’t know about it) and ask what they’re working on.
3. Connect with contacts on your travels
Traveling for an event, meeting or even to visit family? Before you depart, look to see which contacts live in the area of your destination. Reach out to see if they’d like to meet up. Set the meeting before you leave and ensure you have contact information in case you’re delayed or plans changed.
4. Reconnect with those you haven’t contacted with in a while
Browse your connections for people you haven’t had a conversation with for a long time. In case you have a lot of connections, filter by “Connections Only” to shorten the list. List still too long? Shorten it by filtering by company, tag, location and other fields.
By default, contacts are sorted by “Recent Conversations,” so you’ll have to scroll a bit to find older conversations. (The Page Down button comes in handy here.) LinkedIn bases your last conversation on LinkedIn activity and email — if you’ve connected your Gmail, Yahoo! or Outlook email account to LinkedIn. (See sync your contacts.) Beware of this in case you’ve chatted with a contact on Twitter, Facebook or other social network. Remember to keep notes in the person’s profile.
5. Use reminders
Next time you have a conversation with a connection, note special details, such as plans to speak at a conference, go on a fishing trip with the kids and so on. Put this note in the person’s profile and set a reminder to follow up with the person after the event occurs to ask about it.
6. Share curated content
How many times have you seen a great article and shared it with someone? Why not use LinkedIn to share curated content? You get bonus points if you add commentary. Next time you find an insightful article worth sharing, use LinkedIn’s filters to find people in a related job, industry or location that are likely to benefit from the article and forward it along.
What other ways do you use LinkedIn to connect? How has using LinkedIn Contacts helped you?