Want to Create a Painless Prospecting Platform? You Need These Three Things

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Every minute of the day, Facebook users share 2.46 million pieces of content, Twitter users tweet 350,000 times, Google receives over 4 million search queries, and YouTube users upload 100 hours of new video. That’s a whole lot of new content in just one minute.

The competition for your prospects’ attention, especially repeat attention, is incredibly high and growing by the minute. That’s why establishing a digital footprint that extends far beyond your corporate website or blog is imperative.

The key to winning the invisible sale is to create propinquity—or the opportunity for repeated interactions—between you and an unqualified prospect. In the buzz of all that content being created, you have to make sure your prospects see you.

The art of generating helpful, relevant content that is strategically dispersed throughout the websites and social networks favored by your prospects is creating what I call your “painless prospecting platform.” As your unqualified prospects move through your platform and run into you and your content repeatedly, they begin to qualify themselves through their actions and interactions with you and your content.

As you set about establishing a painless prospecting platform, you’ll need to focus on the following three parts.

1. Home base

Everything you do online and offline is designed to drive prospects to your home base. Your home base needs to be a corporate website, blog, or both. If your company has multiple product lines, you might have multiple home bases. Regardless, your goal is to always drive prospects back to your home base, where you can use your content and tracking technology to qualify prospects and guide them down the appropriate sales funnel.

The single most important thing to think about when crafting your home base is about how well it functions. In your website, you want to create a funnel-optimized, mobile-friendly, qualified lead-generation machine committed to achieving only one goal: the constant creation and qualification of convertible leads for your company.

2. Outposts

In the simplest terms, an outpost is a place where you and your content show up from time to time and where your prospects congregate. A good example is submitting a guest post on a popular blog or authoring an article for a magazine. You create and post the content there, but you’re not investing a lot of time in doing so because your goal is to generate awareness. You’re trying to use the platform owner’s audience to create awareness of you and your product or service, and to give prospects a simple way to follow you back to your home base.

3. Embassies

Similar to outposts, embassies are places where you find and interact with prospects but in a much deeper and engaged manner. Embassies are where you’ll plant a flag and plan to spend a good amount of time interacting with the people you find there. Embassies are the places you’re going to meet people, introduce people to one another, and get introduced to people.

Unlike outposts, effective embassy management requires plenty of work and a hefty time investment on your part. But that effort should translate into significant value in the form of new business leads, reputation enhancement, or opportunities to connect with resources that boost your ability to do your job on behalf of your clients. You’ll have only a few embassies in your platform, so you need to select them strategically to maximize the effectiveness of your prospecting platform.

Your Ever-Changing Prospecting Platform

Keep in mind that your prospecting platform is not a static digital footprint. It ebbs and flows as your company emphasizes different products or services. As you move in new directions or target new audiences, any propinquity point can vacillate between serving as an outpost or acting as an embassy. That might be due to a change in your strategy, a changing business climate, or just a realization that a particular propinquity point is under- or over-delivering based on your current efforts.

As you embark on this journey to build your painless prospecting platform, know that you will make mistakes along the way. Failures will occur. Platforms or outposts will end up not making sense or not generating a big enough return on your time and investment to justify continued involvement.

That’s OK.

Failure is the price of learning. The key is to fail small while simultaneously setting yourself up to win big.

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For more information on creating a painless prospecting platform for your own company, join me at MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston when I’ll present How to Leverage the Science of Propinquity to Win More Customers on Thursday, October 9 at 1:30 PM or pick up a copy of The Invisible Sale.

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How to Use Twitter Hashtags as a Prospecting Tool

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social media how to Do you find it hard to have meaningful engagements with prospects on Twitter?

Do you want a better way to find quality prospects and increase your Twitter ROI?

Twitter is a key social media tool that gives you access to a targeted audience and relevant conversations, but first you have to cut through the noise.

In this article I’ll detail three steps for using Twitter hashtags to their full potential. Get ready to find useful conversations that connect you with ideal prospects.

Why Use Hashtags as a Prospecting Tool?

Twitter is noisy.

As a social media marketer, you know how important it is to have conversations with the right audience. But finding the right people and starting those meaningful conversations on Twitter is, shall we say, challenging when there are around 9,100 tweets sent every second.

So how can you find what you’re looking for without monitoring Twitter 24/7? Make the most of hashtags. They help you filter Twitter conversations so you can find discussions you can add to.

#vacationplanning tweets

Destination organizations and travel agents can find people looking for their help by filtering the #VacationPlanning hashtag.

Hashtags are an expression of how a person is thinking or feeling, which makes starting a conversation much easier (not to mention more productive). Successful brands use them not only to monitor customer feedback, but also to find quality leads.

Below you’ll discover three ways you can make the most of this important listening tool.

#1: Find Relevant Hashtags

There are as many hashtags as there are tweets, but the difference is that you can use hashtags to filter out the tweets that don’t apply to you.

How do you know which hashtags to use and follow? Do your research.

Spend time talking to your personnel who know your customers best: customer service reps, sales reps and account managers. Make a list of the most commonly asked questions or challenges voiced by your customers.

If you notice that your current customers and prospects have the same set of questions or challenges, it’s likely those issues are common throughout your niche. It’s a safe bet there are more than a few Twitter conversations around those issues.

With your list of pain points in hand, you’re ready to find hashtags related to them. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. There are plenty of hashtags already in place that you can watch.

To discover relevant hashtags, search for keywords related to the conversations, questions and issues you want to find. The easiest way to do this is by using the search function at the top of your Twitter homepage.

twitters search box

Use Twitter’s search box to find hashtag conversations.

As an example, let’s say you’re a content marketing agency whose prospects’ primary challenge is figuring out what to blog about. You could search for hashtags like #bloggingproblems, #writersblock or #whattoblogabout.

#bloggingproblems hashtag search in twitter

Use the search function to find relevant conversations you can add to.

The related conversations you find will give you direct access to people you can engage with.

#2: Monitor Specific Hashtags

Now that you have your list of hashtags that relate to the problems your prospects have, spend time every day paying attention to those conversations and thinking about what you can add to the discussion.

Even with filtering, not all conversations are going to be valuable, of course. The key is identifying the ones that closely align with the pain points you’re trying to solve for your customers and prospects.

#bloggingproblems tweets

When you find conversations related to your product or service, jump in and help out.

There is simply no better time to find prospects than when they are already expressing challenges that align with the services of your brand. Social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk refers to this as riding the hashtag.

#lostluggage tweet

American Airlines reaches out to a frustrated customer who tweets with #lostluggage.

Paying attention to what is being said on Twitter and reacting accordingly is a much more effective method of prospecting than simply broadcasting your content or message and expecting a return.

#3: Add Value to the Conversation

The true value of Twitter, and social media in general, lies in the ability to really listen and respond, rather than trying to dictate the conversation.

Once you’ve found the relevant conversations happening on Twitter, it’s important to focus on providing information and help instead of pushing your marketing message.

However, since a prospect may not have asked for your input, these initial engagements need to be handled delicately.

#vacationplanning tweet

This #VacationPlanning tweet offers great opportunity for helpful engagement.

You may do more harm than good if you respond to requests for help by being overly aggressive in your attempts to connect and/or talking about your product or service as a solution (this includes sharing gated material they would need to download).

Instead, your first (and second and third…) interaction should be sincerely helpful. Add value to the conversation by lending your expertise. This could mean simply passing along a helpful blog post, introducing them to an interactive tool or chatting about the information the prospect needs.

This type of first contact has proven to be a valuable, profitable tactic for some of the world’s top brands because it reinforces your expertise and builds trust.

Conclusion

If you’re having trouble finding qualified prospects online, try using Twitter as a listening tool. Hashtags are invaluable for helping you find the conversations that are relevant to you and your products or services.

Take the time to find out what your audience and prospects want, need and expect. When you know their pain points, you can address them in a way that reinforces your expertise in the field and builds trust (just avoid the hard sell).

When you put the time in to fine-tune your Twitter tactics, you’ll not only improve the quality of your engagements, you’ll also gain a more positive ROI from your social media efforts.

What do you think? Have you had success with prospecting on Twitter? Do you have tips you can share to help others succeed? Please leave your questions and comments below.

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