by Tony Vidler
Word-of-mouth remains the best marketing professionals can use, or get. The next best is “talk”. Talk to clients and prospects directly. One-to-one…actually spending time communicating directly with each other…voice to voice…human to human.
While I love using digital and leveraging it to communicate to as many people as possible, and it is very effective at doing so, there remains no substitute in professional relationships for good old fashioned “talk”. Two things have drummed this home to me again recently:
My own experience is an excellent example I believe. Putting together a rather unique marketing approach for a small hand-picked team of advisers has been an interesting exercise in communication. Remember that these are highly educated, intelligent, articulate professionals who voraciously consumer megabytes of information in any given week. They are generally pretty good at learning new stuff fast, and then figuring out how they are going to use it. And these people all want to talk to me about the thing I am putting together for them. They are way beyond “interested”…this is no cold-calling sales exercise. So the experience has largely been:
The end result from weeks of rolling out info on what these people want me to roll out info on?
No matter how good people are at absorbing information in writing or from video’s or from visual aids, they nearly all wanted validation of their decision-making through personal conversation. That is all it was too: each had all the information necessary to make a decision, and each had pretty much their decision as to what they were going to. But virtually all wanted the one-to-one reinforcement that they did have all the information necessary to make a good decision, and nearly all wanted to test their thinking out loud with another human being who understood the matter before them.
How is that different to our prospects and clients? I don’t think it is different at all. With all the best presentation material, plan writing, disclosure and ongoing digital communication, the majority still want to test their thinking and have their decisions validated before making significant commitments. (So much for robo’s taking our jobs entirely then.)
This was reinforced when reading the aforementioned Marketing Profs article on referral generation. Some research on how firms are most effectively generating referrals explored a range of methods, including social media, lead generation cards, email and verbal discussions.
Human-to-human contact, or verbal communication, did not generate the most leads. It did however generate by far the best lead conversion (32% of referral given verbally converted to business).
The conclusion I came to in recent weeks is not a revelation; it is a reminder. Spending time one-to-one talking to our clients and prospects generates fabulous results. The return on time invested is well and truly worth it because it dramatically increases conversion.
We can be efficient and get our message out in multiple forms and immense detail to volumes of people simultaneously, and that has merit. At some point however we need to move the people we are talking to down the decision-making path and get them take action on our recommendation.
It seems there is still nothing better than talking directly to people to get them to move down that path and to act.
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