For those of you who either can’t or would prefer not to reflect back to the late 1980s/early 1990s, let me take a moment to introduce a phenomenon called “UseNet,” literally an enormous, often nested collection of discussion forums which, back then, were accessible via physical and virtual terminals connected to the “Internet.” Remember, there was an Internet before there were web browsers. With regard to Sales & Marketing, these forums were noteworthy in that they provided sales folk peddling people, (AKA “executive search” and/or “contract consulting” experts) with a rich venue to engage technology professionals in meaningful discussion–just the prescription for closing complex sales for staffing requirements, not to mention opening new client relationships.
Fast forward to 2011. A cornerstone feature of prominent Web 2.0/Social Media websites like LinkedIn, FaceBook, Google+ and Twitter is the ability to engage in discussions and in real time. With regard to LinkedIn, this feature is offered via LinkedIn “Groups”. At no cost to the Group Owner, this feature offers “under the radar” marketers and other purveyors of products requiring complex sales strategies a great tool to:
- constrain market visibility, but nevertheless engage in meaningful product promotion
- cultivate discussion with prospects, potential product evangelists, etc without digressing into hard core selling
- learn more about target businesses and presumed decision-makers
LinkedIn Groups is a true “win win” feature. LinkedIn encourages Group Owners to invite any email contacts as well as “first” connections on LinkedIn. They grow their contact base and you use their feature to carefully leverage interactive media to build your business. Of course, do be sure to make your group “members only”. Be sure to check any/all applications to join to ensure that you get the members you’re after.
This same discussion feature is more prominent on FaceBook via the “wall” feature of FaceBook pages. It is nested into Twitter, as well, where followers can engage via the “reply” feature. Google+ has a similar feature to FaceBook, but do exercise care as what you add to your Google+ “stream” may post to the public, getting you much more exposure than I recommend if you’re marketing under the radar. Ditto for Twitter.
In sum, discussion groups provide a great way to generate leads and cultivate relationships with potential partners, prospects and customers. Meaningful dialogue can even end up as a useful means of saving money for your customers, thereby building the value proposition for your products. Check it out.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2011 All Rights Reserved