So far we have talked about
- ... and finally, we come to the 6th 'P' in Profit and the entire purpose of your business activity: which is to sell 'stuff', whatever your product or service might be, by promoting it and thereby make a profit.
The 6th 'P' in Profit is Promotion.
Promotion of your product is by far the easiest to consider because we are right back at the basic process of making an offer, but instead of pushing your offer into an unknown, sterile environment you have now done so much more to prepare the ground by participating with your prospects that promoting your product to a successful sale is so much easier.
It is only by laying the groundwork of the first 5 'P's in Profit that opens the way for you to Promote your products to your target market - with whom you have been Participating for some time.
Ensuring that your prospects have already got to meet, know, like and trust you before you ever promote to them means that it is much easier to move them through the buy decision to a sale.
During your Participation phase you have been pleasant and helpful when active in their space. In their Group on Facebook or Linkedin, their Twitter activity or channel on Youtube, their social network whatever it might be - but always on their territory.
- A segment of a social network (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is important to remember that you are not selling during participation. You can't gatecrash someone else's party by bursting in to their conversation in order to tell them all about your wonderful product.
If you do so then you are likely to be ignored, ostracised and even banned - just as happens in real world social gatherings.
In the course of your participation with your target market they have pre-qualified themselves as prospects by following the links you have subtly strewn in their path to find out what you have Published - and got to know more about you in the process.
Note that if they are not interested then they won't follow your links and will not engage with you as much as those who are interested. You are simply another participant in the conversation they are engaged in - but nothing so unpleasant in their environment as someone trying to sell to them.
But you are unlikely to sell anything to those people anyway - and that doesn't matter because if your online participation is justified by what you DO sell - then however many people see your stuff and don't buy simply doesn't matter - and certainly doesn't cost you anything.
If they are interested, then the keywords that you have scattered into your conversation will have chimed with them and they will follow up in their own time.
Have you ever wondered what is going on when some network tells you that '57 people visited your Profile last month'? Those people never told you they were looking, you don't know what they were looking for but, basically, they were checking you out and getting to know you better.
If they continue to relate to you then you have probably just passed the 'meet' and 'know' stages of the relationship - which we know is going to make it that much easier for them to make a buy decision either when you Promote to them or when they are ready.
Notice I didn't say '..for you to sell to them.' The decision to buy is theirs in their own time. This process is about positioning yourself so that you are the preferred supplier whenever they want something in the product line that you offer.
But it does mean that when you do come to promote and make a hard sell offer then you can simply advise your community of new friends that the offer is there.
They will accept that your product offer is what you do for business, they will accept the marketing language because they will accept that it is not directed at them.
After all, they know you, they trust you and if they buy from you and something goes wrong then already know they can communicate with you and they trust you to treat them right.
And you would, of course, treat them right because they are your friends. If you are not friends with your customers who pay you good money then you have a serious problem!
This new relationship which has come into being courtesy of the social interactivity enabled by the web is also forcing an improvement in standards.
You have to be genuine in your relationships, you have to offer quality products and services and stand by them. Businesses have been destroyed almost overnight by dissatisfied customers using social media.
Which brings us back to Participation. The fact that customers can post negative comments and feedback all over the web is not a reason to hide from it or to fail to participate. Instead it is an opportunity to respond.
If you have Promoted a product that has got a negative feedback then you need to use the same social channels to show publicly what you are doing to put things right for the unhappy customer.
An effective response to an online criticism that deals with the customers complaint and turns them back into a happy customer can gain you serious kudos. Just make sure that you don't repeat the mistake you made!
You may have noticed that much of this post on Promotion has veered back into Participation. As I remarked at the beginning, Promotion is the easy stuff. That's what we've always done.
It is understanding that the new interaction, the Participation enabled by the web has put you in direct contact and communication with your prospects and customers over a prolonged period both before and after the sale and enables a much more intimate relationship.
Planning, Prioritising, Producing, Publishing and Promoting have always been part of the business process leading to Profit. It is Participation, the new kid on the block at number 5, that makes it so much easier to convert your final and 6th 'P' of Promotion into Profit.