For those of you who read my most recent missive about three nifty web based initiatives to garner more teen loyalty, you may have been left feeling scared and alone. Why? Because you were thinking, "Sites like HOTEL626, LEVEL26 and CIRCLE OF 8 sure were neat, but how can I use this to my advantage?"
Great question, glad you asked...
These spooky sites use big time graphics, storytelling and gee-whiz programming to deliver an experience that's as good as anything the Internet has to offer. But, you need to understand what's really being done here... targeting a specific audience with a reason to enjoy your company. These would-be customers don't even have to know you well to begin, but by the end of their time with you... you should become "friends".
What can you do to "tag-along" with your prospects, specific prospects - you know, the 20% who actually mean something to your business? Study them, their habits, needs, desires and interests. Is there something in common? It might be that they all utilize a certain type of equipment that you just happen to service. Or, they might all be Packer fans, as far as you can tell. The connection point could be anything - an upcoming event like an industry trade show is all you need.
Compelling content is really the key.
These scary sites had great want-to-stay-longer-to-find-out-what-happens kind of content. Can you do the same? Sure. Let's say you make flame retardant roofing... why couldn't you tell the story of how your stuff might prevent a business changing tragedy when a military flare fell upon a roof (oh, wait, that's a real story!). You could also make it up, turn it into a mystery... it could be way over the top - just for fun - but, often, you can find real world news that could be co-opted for your own business. That's compelling reading. That's someone who's engaged every bit as much as teens freaking out as they run through the Flash created corridors of a haunted virtual hotel.
Fine... but my budget ain't 6 figures...
or 5 or even 4. Wondering what to do with a small business budget? No problem. Don't give yourself that as an out. Setting up an e-mail campaign or sending "something in a box" that directs recipients back to your website and some special content is all that you're after (make sure there is an easy way for them to contact you for even more information to continue to the dialogue). In the case of that 20% audience you defined, exactly how many prospects/customers are we talking about? For many businesses, it's about 20 total... and that's A-OK. If you have 100's or 1000's, use this as a chance to test your strategy with only 20 or so. How many do you need to convert to make the program a "push"? I'm here to tell you right now, that if you can get it to cover itself, you win, because the long term effects of applying this will net more and more and more. Your conversion will increase and your innovative thinking will spill over to the rest of your prospects.
When a stranger calls...
The strategy of scaring is pretty simple: you wait for just the right person to come along and jump out and yell, "Boo!" When you set that moment up, it's friendly and fun - if you don't, you may get a bloody nose - or worse. What are you doing to maintain a conversation with your best prospects and customers so that when you do give them a surprise, they'll actually find the fun in it? Great sales people know that making "touches" are hugely important. Right now, pick out your top 20 and send the bottom 15 a hand written postcard/letter and for the top 5, just pick up a phone and make a call. Since it's almost Halloween, try this for starters ... "Have you checked the widgets..."
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