Marketing Versus Connecting

How to Plan the Perfect Dinner Party

There are two ways that social media can help your business: one is by helping you market using nontraditional channels. The other is by allowing you connection touchpoints in between marketing and other business outputs. Both are valuable. Like with all things, it’s the mix that makes it work out.

The Marketing Part of Social Media

Marketing is helping someone find a product or service that might be of value to them and it entails helping a prospect closer to a potential sale and further relationship. There are plenty of ways that we do this in social media. We might ask you to join a free email newsletter, where there’s more relationship building, but eventually there is a sales attempt or two. We might point you via social networks towards our offer, our call to action. We might create content that further educates you towards a purchase, and then guides you to appropriate next steps. These are all easily understandable methods of using social media to build sales. Measurement wise, these are also the best way to understand your direct efforts to sell via the social web. But then, there’s connecting.

Relationships and the Social Web

I’ve got many colleagues and community members who read and participate at [chrisbrogan.com] without being my core buyer. I love these relationships every bit as much (sometimes more) than I do the relationships with my potential clients and customers. I use the tools of the social web to build relationships that I hope extend out far beyond my buying cycles. Why? Because more comes from these relationships than what comes from a typical single sale.

But how do you use the tools of the social web to connect? Here are some thoughts:

Listen

First, always, is listening. If it’s important to know what your customers (and your prospective customers) are saying about you, about your products, and about the space where you do your work. We’ve talked about this before. It’s the point of my grow bigger ears advice. Listening is the secret weapon of the social media world, because it gives you a sense of who’s talking about you, and what you can do to help them.

In the relationship-making sense, however, there’s another value. You can listen to people for what they’re interested in, and you can learn to engage them on those topics, instead of simply talking about your own business all the time. Imagine the obvious sense and value in talking to people about what makes them tick, instead of limiting conversations to your own marketing efforts. That’s the gold, friends.

Make Creative Content

Building a campfire for people to gather around never goes out of style. If you create something of interest, people respond. Here’s the story about how Dave Delaney and Griffin Tech created a cool DIY project for the CES before last, and how much came out of that.

If you’re Hubspot, you’re a content company with a software product, it seems. They make more interesting inbound interest-generating conversations than most companies I know. And the result of all that work? They get plenty of warm leads and sales for when those times are right.

Promote Others Incessantly

My third and biggest piece of advice is to promote others. If you want to earn your way into some amazing business (and personal) relationships? Promote others at every chance you can. Bring light to those people doing great work. Help raise up the people who are brilliant and deserving of attention ( like Tom Webster), and give them the spotlight.

Find other people opportunities. Share your luck with others. I send speaking gigs to friends all the time (when it makes sense), and I hope to be able to do that even more in 2011 (plans are underway for something for that). The more you can share good opportunities with others, the more you have a chance to change the world.

Why Market ONLY?

If you had the choice to market and connect with people in between marketing opportunities, why wouldn’t you? It’s the best possible mix of call-to-action goodness and connective tissue. It’s human business. And it’s what will drive business to you in bigger ways than you’ve ever imagined.

What are your thoughts?

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  • http://mikelopez.info/ Mike Lopez

    Stop focusing and selling and start focusing on making relationships – that’s what I always say. Selling somehow magically becomes easier when you have more genuine connections with people.

  • http://bit.ly/hiuOOL Don Power

    Interestingly enough I’ve been reading and finding out about Buddhism lately and one of their tenets is that you become closer to Nirvana by helping others to achieve Nirvana (well that’s my #BubbleGumBuddha take on it anyway).

    Fits very nicely with the connecting and promoting others themes that Chris mentions here.
    I can Tweet and still stay on the path – BONUS!

    - Don
    aka @donpower on Twitter

  • http://bit.ly/hiuOOL Don Power

    Interestingly enough I’ve been reading and finding out about Buddhism lately and one of their tenets is that you become closer to Nirvana by helping others to achieve Nirvana (well that’s my #BubbleGumBuddha take on it anyway).

    Fits very nicely with the connecting and promoting others themes that Chris mentions here.
    I can Tweet and still stay on the path – BONUS!

    - Don
    aka @donpower on Twitter

  • http://bit.ly/hiuOOL Don Power

    Interestingly enough I’ve been reading and finding out about Buddhism lately and one of their tenets is that you become closer to Nirvana by helping others to achieve Nirvana (well that’s my #BubbleGumBuddha take on it anyway).

    Fits very nicely with the connecting and promoting others themes that Chris mentions here.
    I can Tweet and still stay on the path – BONUS!

    - Don
    aka @donpower on Twitter

  • http://bit.ly/hiuOOL Don Power

    Interestingly enough I’ve been reading and finding out about Buddhism lately and one of their tenets is that you become closer to Nirvana by helping others to achieve Nirvana (well that’s my #BubbleGumBuddha take on it anyway).

    Fits very nicely with the connecting and promoting others themes that Chris mentions here.
    I can Tweet and still stay on the path – BONUS!

    - Don
    aka @donpower on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/simonemccallum Simone McCallum

    Great post Chris, it really resonates with me. You wouldn’t walk up to a group of people chatting at a party and starting handing out business cards without getting to know them first, so why would you do it on social networks!

  • http://jimjosephexp.com Jim Joseph

    Connecting is the new communicating, that’s for sure. And it should be the new marketing as well. Nice post, thanks. JIM

  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    I think that getting that mix is the difficult part for most companies. Where I see a bigger issues is when trying to mix the different elements of marketing and CONNECTING with all their efforts (traditional vs. non-traditional). In most occasions they want to have a twitter account and that does not relate to anything they are doing on there advertising via radio or tv.

    I also agree that in my case people and companies that Grow Bigger ears are the ones that I really enjoy promoting and sponsoring.

    Thanks again for mentioning great people like Tom Webster. I have been able to enjoy his blog and learn a lot more from someone with a great perspective.

  • http://www.experiate.net Paul Flanigan

    Forget about “marketing” for a second. There is no more important feature of relationships than connecting. Almost every interactive measure we perform online is connecting.

    Marketing is a natural feature of connecting – you connect, you have something to contribute. It’s not always sales.

    Connecting is as much an art for as it is a science. Those who have considered connecting a craft of their existence usually are better marketers. Here’s the secret: Many (if not most) of them never opened a marketing textbook – they learned it by doing.

    • http://www.coryscomments.com Cory Hintz

      Paul – nice comments regarding connecting. I also agree with the your comment being “as much an art as it is a science.”

      • http://www.experiate.net Paul Flanigan

        Thanks, Cory. (Now, if I could only figure out the art of it…) :)

  • Anonymous

    I have to admit that I’ve been so busy with clients (thank God) that I haven’t been keeping up on the Blog for a week or so. Here I am back and here you are reinforcing WHAT Social Media is all about. I landed my biggest client through FB. After I met an employee of the firm at a luncheon we connected on FB. She got to know me and what my company does at her own ‘safe distance’ and then called me in for a meeting with her execs. I would never have been able to develop that relationship in a non-cheesy/aggressive way without Social Media.

  • Anonymous

    I have to admit that I’ve been so busy with clients (thank God) that I haven’t been keeping up on the Blog for a week or so. Here I am back and here you are reinforcing WHAT Social Media is all about. I landed my biggest client through FB. After I met an employee of the firm at a luncheon we connected on FB. She got to know me and what my company does at her own ‘safe distance’ and then called me in for a meeting with her execs. I would never have been able to develop that relationship in a non-cheesy/aggressive way without Social Media.

  • http://twitter.com/brad5patterson Brad Patterson

    Great post. The approach is so true. Who likes a commenter/twitter who is so “me” driven. It is about community, and is about sharing. We know it deep down, but when we post/write many times we fall back into the small “me”.

    Will continue to follow this blog thanks to @Eldonedwards

    Cheers and best in 2011

  • http://twitter.com/VelChain Dave Lutz

    Chris, love your emphasis on being a connector! When it comes to service businesses, where you’re selling and providing an invisible piece of yourself, your network separates the good from the great. For my consulting biz, I don’t have all the answers…but usually I know someone who does. You can keep your connections alive by 1) asking for help and advice and 2) giving it back freely and without expectation. It’s the long path to success, but one that is sustainable.

  • http://twitter.com/VelChain Dave Lutz

    Chris, love your emphasis on being a connector! When it comes to service businesses, where you’re selling and providing an invisible piece of yourself, your network separates the good from the great. For my consulting biz, I don’t have all the answers…but usually I know someone who does. You can keep your connections alive by 1) asking for help and advice and 2) giving it back freely and without expectation. It’s the long path to success, but one that is sustainable.

  • http://www.ruthkustoff.com Ruth Kustoff

    Great article! I believe in the power of connecting and social media. I share my knowledge and insights through articles on Slideshare and respond to questions or comments in Linkedin groups that relate to my expertise. I will say however I am frustrated because I dont interact (at least not yet) from readers – no comments or responses. So though I know it’s being seen and read, I don’t know if its helpful. How can I make the leap to begin to create communicating relationships with my social media audience?

  • http://remarkablogger.com Michael Martine

    Connecting helps us figure out who needs our help (marketing). Also, you meet cool people, which is reward enough in itself. :)

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Oh, Disqus is giving me such trouble lately. Paul – I am going to have to express my “like” of your post verbally because the button isn’t working :)

    In these trying times that try men’s (and women’s) souls, I think the distance between marketing and connecting is getting ever more slim, which also makes it, as Raul says, an extremely delicate balance.

    Here’s the problem.

    If someone doesn’t know you and you try to sell to them, they cry out in protest. They blow their SPAM whistle. You are black-flagged, black-listed, tarred and feathered…bad juju.

    Now on the other hand, if you know someone really well and you try to sell to them the wrong way, the same results will happen. Hmm.

    You have to have the right kind of connections, and you have to sell the right way for those connections.

    And I know what everyone is thinking – “There are SPAM Whistles?!?”

    • http://giannii.com/ giannii

      Hi Marjojrie,

      Re: Disqus What happens when you click like? What browser are you using?

      • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

        I’m using Firefox. Nothing happened – it just sat there. I’ve also been having a problem on some sites with the comment box not expanding beyond 3-4 lines as I type. I tend to be verbose, so it’s a problem :)

        Thanks!

      • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

        I’m using Firefox. Nothing happened – it just sat there. I’ve also been having a problem on some sites with the comment box not expanding beyond 3-4 lines as I type. I tend to be verbose, so it’s a problem :)

        Thanks!

      • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

        I’m using Firefox. Nothing happened – it just sat there. I’ve also been having a problem on some sites with the comment box not expanding beyond 3-4 lines as I type. I tend to be verbose, so it’s a problem :)

        Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Great value post here Chris… the value is letting your personality and expertise shine through so people can get to know you in a somewhat personal way through various social channels -and two of your points I would like to highlight is listening to others and engaging them with their interests and promoting the work and value of others. These two activities have helped propelled you to the success you are today.

    All this requires is to get out of your self-centered, self-promoting, selfish ways and start giving liberally to others. Haha – here’s where people like you/ us have the advantage – too many on the take with a get rich mentality to understand the value of building and ensuring long-term success. Done properly, that is precisely what can be accomplished through your social footprint.

    Cheers to all you give the community Chris : )

  • http://www.hannahsharvest.com Hannah Marcotti

    Probably my favorite blog title from you to date.

    This could be a discussion over tea, and then more tea, and maybe some lunch.

    I wanted to say that one thing I appreciate is that you gave some of us a way of working with you for a small amount each month through the Blog Topics. Those of us who gain value from your posts now have a way of “doing business’ with you! I am inspired to translate that into my community…

    I had the experience of writing about Larabars on one of my posts. They saw it via a tweet, wrote to me and now we have a business relationship as they are sponsoring my retreat. All because I love their product (and I don’t love many!)

  • http://ClimbingEveryMountain.com Mary E. Ulrich

    I like the layers of information you give in your posts:

    Neither marketing, nor connecting are new ideas, but putting the two together makes me think with a broader perspective.

    Another layer is linking to real people who are examples of doing it right.

    I skimmed over the names the first read-through but now that Raul also recommended Tom Webster, I gotta go back and find out more–your community layer.

    Humm, one post and I’ll bet you didn’t even know you were building sky-scrapers.

  • http://www.chrisorrmedia.com Chris Orr

    I liken it to my mother’s “Avon lady” in the ’60s and ’70s. She’d come over every other week and the appointment would last about an hour. They’d chat. They became friends. Mom bought stuff every week because she liked the “Avon lady”. And the “Avon lady” listened and knew which products she’d buy now and which she’d have to think about. Social media allows us to do it on a grander scale in a much shorter period of time.

  • http://twitter.com/MaxiGM Maxi Garcia

    Speaking their language, as you do with your audience, and put it in an easy, clear way for them is key to start connecting, gain trust and expand your reach. Creativity is not about being cool but knowing how to communicate with people out there.

  • http://twitter.com/susangiurleo susangiurleo

    As a psychologist by training, I figured out the connecting and relationship building side of business first. Then I studied marketing – guess what? they are so intricately related that to separate them works against any business goals you have. People use money to buy stuff. People are inherently wired to connect. Hence connecting to people is the BEST way to start a marketing plan.

    In the “old days” we didn’t have the social tools we have now to connect. So we had to scaffold a sense of perceived intimacy with people to sell.

    Now, the game is changed 180 degrees. We have the tools to connect and relate. We can build relationships that ease us into marketing. Broadcast advertising is now for the lazy and non-creative.

    Of course, there are issues of scale and managing the intensity of relatedness (which could be a book, I believe) but when you hit the sweet spot of making people feel good about being part of a community with a leader (or brand, product) as the center, marketing and sales are much easier.

    People are your business, not the stuff you sell. When people feel connected to you, they want to buy your stuff.

  • http://twitter.com/WestWheeler West Wheeler

    Wow, I love this one. I spent just as much time reading the links and getting ideas from them as well.

    As a Brand Manager of a “boutique” brand that was purchased by a large company about 2 years ago, we have seen some backlash from that. The company is also a little behind on the social network scene. While they are afraid of what the “forum” types say, they have done some things opposite of what the brand was built on.

    It would be great to reconnect with those people and get them to try out the product to get them on board like they have recently done with another boutique brand that they recently purchased. We have 2 years of making things up to do on the first discussed brand.

    Connecting with original users and creating great product will be what brings back the name, I feel.

    Thanks for reminding us all of how important connection is.

  • http://twitter.com/renepower Rene Power

    Great post. Connection and relationships are also as old as time itself. People buy people at the end of day. operating on trust, referral, recommendation and word of mouth. It might seem obvious to those of us that have already bought into these concepts, but the majority still haven’t so always worth the reminder to stay focused.

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/blog/official-black-seo-guy/ Black Seo Guy

    Take advantage of the moment and give it your all..people will come back if you write the connect that makes them think and wonder what you will do next..Learn to just to say have your ears open at all time..my grandmother said smart people listen and dumb people talk too much..so I’m a listener these days..

    BTW Chris..Can you can contact me on my contact page..Its very important..I need your help.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Patti Phelan Clapp

    Chris,

    What a fantastic article! Thanks so much for sharing. As a social media consultant and coach, I couldn’t agree more as far as the marketing/connecting/relationships that social media can provide. I will be sharing your blog on my fan page Social Media Now as well as my Linked in profile. My friends love you! Have a good day! Patti Phelan Clapp

  • http://www.poweredbysearch.com Dev Basu

    Chris, this post really resonates with me. It takes me way back to the first time I read How to Win Friends & Influence People. Being an avid listener is a great skill to have especially in a room full of people who are eager to talk about themselves and their lives.

  • http://www.poweredbysearch.com Dev Basu

    Chris, this post really resonates with me. It takes me way back to the first time I read How to Win Friends & Influence People. Being an avid listener is a great skill to have especially in a room full of people who are eager to talk about themselves and their lives.

  • http://moneycrisisgameplan.com David Wilcoxson

    Great article Chris! I’ll make it a point to ask more questions and listen to people on social media, to see what their needs are and what’s on their heart.

  • Kradr2

    Thinking about this Chris, I’m trying to imagine your world. You must be beyond hammered with information.. Your world relative to mine, probably the difference between surfing a suicide tsunami wave and a mild pond ripple…. What’s your room number at Belview ? I’ll send you some Zen Fortune cooks…. Yours truly, the guy in room 8. Take care!

  • Kradr2

    Thinking about this Chris, I’m trying to imagine your world. You must be beyond hammered with information.. Your world relative to mine, probably the difference between surfing a suicide tsunami wave and a mild pond ripple…. What’s your room number at Belview ? I’ll send you some Zen Fortune cooks…. Yours truly, the guy in room 8. Take care!

  • http://www.thesweetbeet.com The Sweet Beet

    On the connecting front: one of the biggest challenges I find wrt responding to comments and engaging community through comments, is “losing” certain comments that I want to come back to and follow up with, but that get lost in the comment lineup.

    Do you know if there is a way to tag or flag comments (on a WordPress blog) so the writer of that blog (me), can quickly see which comments I have not responded to, yet wish to? I looked for a WP plugin that does this and did not see one. Thx !!

  • http://www.acceleratedonline.net/ David Lelong

    I agree that listening is important not only from figuring out how you can provide a solution, but also how you can help better define the problem. In some cases, prospective customers are too focused on solving their problem instead of properly defining it. This can be eliminated by clearly understanding what it is they are trying to achieve.

  • http://twitter.com/PeterPaluska Peter Paluska

    I agree, Chris that a healthy, streamlined balance of marketing and connecting, along with a humanistic, long-view orientation is what makes for a successful business.
    Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/webby2001 Tom Webster

    Appreciate the shout-out, Chris. Very kind :) Safe travels!

  • http://www.blistmarketing.com Brandon Yanofsky

    I’m definitely going to start working on promoting other people. I did that a few times a while back and saw a lot of benefits.

    Thanks for the advice Chris!

  • http://twitter.com/smallbizphil Phil Woods

    One of my favorite posts you’ve written. I still don’t understand why people think this is so difficult! Maybe just because it’s digital.

  • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

    Chris

    I am all about building the relationships as we have to have those in our lives. We cannot grow as a person and certainly not in business without relationships. For someone to promote you, they have to know you, know things about you and know that who they are promoting they can trust. In business people hire us based upon trust that we will or the product will perform. We have have to have the relationships to build trust.

    We could talk about ourselves all day long. That is easy. Talking about others is hard sometimes as how much do we know about them? Have we stopped talking long enough to listen to them? Somewhere along the lines marketing became only talking about ourselves which is missing such a big part that you have talked about here. When we are talking about others, we are still in front and center and marketing ourselves. Just in a more indirect way.

    and for the record, I love you too as I am not your buyer but your friendship is one that I cherish and look forward to every day.

    • http://bloggers-anon.com Infomum

      I like that question … Have we stopped talking long enough to listen to them?

      Darren Rowse calls it an echo chamber when we all so busy talking about ourselves that we don’t stop to listen to what others are saying.

      Perhaps we need to learn or re-learn the art of having a conversation blog to blog.

      I see it even in the many comments I read on the blogs I visit regularly. There is plenty of comments to the post writer, but how many posts replying to a commenter and participating in a conversation?

    • http://bloggers-anon.com Infomum

      I like that question … Have we stopped talking long enough to listen to them?

      Darren Rowse calls it an echo chamber when we all so busy talking about ourselves that we don’t stop to listen to what others are saying.

      Perhaps we need to learn or re-learn the art of having a conversation blog to blog.

      I see it even in the many comments I read on the blogs I visit regularly. There is plenty of comments to the post writer, but how many posts replying to a commenter and participating in a conversation?

  • http://conniemcknight.com Connie McKnight

    It really is about building relationships. Who wants to buy from a salesperson who babbles on about him/herself and does bother to ask you what your needs are? Listening means you genuinely care. Thanks for the great advice.

  • http://www.lisabmarshall.com Lisa

    Putting the emphasis on co-operation and two-way communication is so important in any area of business. With all the complex and terrific tools we have available it is so easy to overlook simple skills, like listening. This is a good reminder to get back to the heart of what makes us successful and keeps us going – relationships. I’m looking forward to this being a growing trend in business (and of personal lives too!).

  • http://In-The-Flow.com Jim Campbell

    Those who get this, get it all; the fun, the friends, the successes, the gold and the satisfaction that it’s a better place because we care about others…

  • http://www.garious.com Heba Hosny

    Another great post, Chris and its timing couldn’t be more perfect! It came as breath of fresh air to us, the garious team, reassuring us that we are on the right track and I will get back to this point later on.
    For now, I will comment on your 3 main connection versus marketing points.
    1- Listening: I agree with you 100% that business owners must carefully listen to what others are saying about their brand but they must listen deeply and read between the lines in order to figure out what these people are really hungry for and hand it to them on a sliver plate. I would also add “proactive listening” which means asking questions, involving customers/prospects in the product creation process and finally acknowledging them for being part of our success.
    2- As for the “creativity” factor , that’s out of the question and unprecedented tools and viral marketing techniques that social media created have sparked the creativity of many businesses, big and small and the examples are countless in that regard. So what I would add to your valuable point is that being creative is now easier than ever and we, garious, did it yesterday: we launched our first promotional video on YouTube in which we discussed what is NOT social media and interestingly, we addressed all the points you mentioned here. Didn’t I say that your post timing is perfect :)?
    3- As for promoting other people’s work. I love this point as it reflects the abundance mindset. “Give and you shall receive”. There’s plenty in the universe for everyone and the time you spend helping others will give you immense joy and you will be rewarded generously.
    I also loved your point about not boring people to tears about our business 24/7 and talking to them about what they love for a change. Well put :).
    I can’t thank you enough for insightful and motivating post. I have a strong feeling that 2011 will be the year when many businesses thrive more than ever. To lour success :).

  • Anonymous

    Excellent article.. Through this marketing we will get more relationship.. Nice..
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  • http://www.abstover.com/ Blair Stover

    I agree with others here. Engaging is what is important, and making a relationship is what social media is strongest with. I like the idea of helping promote others – it shows you are paying attention and aren’t just around to use others for “clicks” or “retweets”. Great post! -Blair Stover

  • Scott Valentine

    Thanks for spreading the trust love! A heat example of how the Social Media Revolution proves that it pays to listen.

    -SV

  • Scott Valentine

    Thanks for spreading the trust love! A heat example of how the Social Media Revolution proves that it pays to listen.

    -SV

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  • http://www.aureliustjin.com Aurelius Tjin

    Nice post Chris. Your article could help by giving others an Idea in a realistic way.. Asking everyone’s NEED is very important, the main purpose of this is help to people, and at the same time you will also get benefits in this way.

  • http://www.rainmakerresume.com Jennifer Shryock

    Chris, I appreciate that you distinguish the differences between marketing and connection! Of course there is overlap, but although I hope to gain more clients through my relationship building efforts, those relationships are inherently valuable on their own.

    Having a young blog with a small following, I’m not getting much feedback yet about what my customers want to hear. I’m mostly taking the approach of providing them with lots of informative content. I’ll get more creative with that and I’ll promote others better, starting right now! And I’ll keep listening for guidance, too.

    Thanks for the excellent advice! Jennifer Shryock

    • http://www.twitter.com/joshchandler Josh Chandler

      Jennifer,

      In my personal opinion you can still get an understanding of your customer’s needs through viewing the analytics of your blog.

      You don’t need to go far to find a unique nugget of information such as “Most Visited Page”, “Keywords” etc. All basic information, but a brilliant way to get some idea of where to go next. :)