Remember the good old days of job hunting? You found a job posting, sent in a resume, and hopefully got a call back from the company.
Most jobs are not found that way anymore. According to US News and World Report, in 2014 more than 70% of people landed their jobs through networking. Job seekers have learned to identify the companies they want to work for, find contacts within those companies, and then describe the value they will deliver if hired.
Like job seekers, businesses have discovered that the traditional methods of finding new customers just don’t work anymore. Prospecting emails and newsletters often go to spam folders, advertising goes unnoticed, and with caller ID, most people don’t answer calls from people they don’t know.
To be successful, businesses must:
- Identify their target market/audience
- Connect with individuals within that market
- Deliver a compelling value proposition
Identify your target market/audience
Rather than trying to reach out to everyone, focus on a very small, specific target audience. This enables you to narrow your effort and expenses, and to develop a specific value proposition for that audience. Once that campaign is done, start another one using a different message for another targeted audience. You’ll soon learn what works and successive efforts become easier and more productive. It really is a case of learning by doing.
How do you come up with a target market? Look at who your best customers are now. What are their traits, where are they located, what do they read? Local library databases contain lists of businesses sorted by various classifications. For B2B markets, searching by SIC (Standard Industry Classification) or NAICS (North American Industry Classification) codes works well.
Connect with individuals in that market
You need to “connect” with individuals in the businesses you are targeting. For consumer products, use Facebook to find people that have similar interests. For B2B, use LinkedIn to find individuals within the businesses you have targeted. Talking with a personal connection always wins out over a cold call or cold email.
Deliver a compelling value proposition
We all have very limited attention spans. Something has to catch our eye, promise us value, and then we’ll commit a few seconds to learn more. People are no longer willing to read long web pages or download white papers. But they might be willing to watch a compelling 60 second video. YouTube and good quality cell phone cameras have made videos the communication media of choice. Don’t try to create a viral video. Clear, sincere communication will build trust and is much more likely to work.
Like job seekers, businesses that reach out to new potential customers on a personal level have a much better chance of success. The use of networking, social media tools, and compelling videos can help you land new customers and grow your revenues.