Social network marketing: Learn before you earn

NOTE — This is the final post in a series on social network marketing. The complete series can be found here.

Social network marketing can work in multiple ways, but there are principles that increase your chances of success.

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A few of the principles are personal — knowing why you’re in business and staying focused. But most of the principles concern you’re dealings with other people — building relationships, helping people, starting a blog, interacting with people, showing people how to succeed, not selling, and forming a community.

Perhaps the most important principle brings it all together — creating or finding a system to make it all work. You must have a teachable system. Once you have that, all you need are coachable partners.

So, what might this look like? How might a person journey from stranger to acquaintance to friend to business partner or customer? Consider this scenario:

• A person sees an interesting tweet you sent out on Twitter or became your friend on Facebook and saw something of note in your updates. Or maybe they found you through a blog on which you both comment. When you connect with him or her, you mention a post you wrote that might help them.

• The person visits your blog (or might have found your blog through a search engine or through another site). He or she reads a few of your posts and discovers that you provide relevant, valuable insights.

• After reading your posts, the person leaves a comment or two. You reply. A conversation develops, and perhaps moves to e-mail or another form of communication.

• Along the way, you introduce them to a personal development process that improves their business and personal life.

• During the course of the conversation, the person mentions that he or she is looking for a way to make extra money. Or perhaps he or she has noticed a link in your sidebar. You point them to your web site where he or she finds something that will make his or her life better.

• The person e-mails you for more information or fills out a form with their contact information.

• You call him or her. You talk several times. You decide if the person is a good fit for your business, and the person decides if it makes sense to them. If the answer for both of you is “yes,” you have a new business partner.

Because the person knows you and your business, he or she is likely a committed partner. This type of partnership will be mutually beneficially to both businesses.

This is not the only way social network marketing can work, but it is one way. Success will come to those who attract and interacting with people interested in their business and follow proven principles.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Specialization leads to realization

NOTE — This is the 11th post in a series on social network marketing. The full series can be found here.

Most everybody in social network marketing gets sidetracked because they lose focus in one of two ways. They either try to make money in too many ways or their way of making money gets fragmented.

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Even worse, many people trying to make money using the Internet too often lose sight of the reason they got in business in the first place.

Social network marketing should never be construed as a “get rich quick” scheme. It is, at it’s best, a way to leverage yourself in multiple ways to earn a great deal of income.

But leveraging yourself in a number of ways should not be confused with multiple streams of income. In fact, you should focus on one, and only one, way of making money. Trying to make money in numerous ways only leads to numerous failures.

Tie tour primary business to your blog. When people visit it, they’ll eventually ask or find the links to how you make money. If the interaction funnel is set up correctly, it will lead them to consider whether or not to buy your products and join your business.

Moreover, getting involved in multiple projects only increases the chances of getting caught in one of the numerous scams that proliferate on the web. And it decreases the benefits that come with specialization.

But just concentrating on a single, legitimate business venture doesn’t guarantee success.

In social network marketing, many people get distracted by various methods of driving traffic to their web sites. Instead of trying every new trick that’s recommended by this week’s hot marketing guru, find what works and keep doing it until it stops working.

Remember that your social media efforts are only meant to attract people to your blog – your interactive funnel. That’s where you’re social networking efforts will be most effective.

Most importantly remember the ultimate goal of that interaction. Nearly every marketer started off with some sort of higher purpose. Success in its purest and highest form will only come when that goal is met.

Get the myth of multiple income streams and the fragmentation of multiple traffic-seeking methods out of the way, so you can focus on making a difference in people’s lives. With the distraction out of the way, the process of attraction will start.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Beyond business, build community

NOTE — This is the tenth in a series on social network marketing. All the posts in the series can be found here.

At its best, social network marketing leads to the formation of a community. You have to do more than just provide advice on how to get income. Your worth should be measured in friendship not dollars.

The business objective of making money must be put aside so you can focus on bringing together a committed group of prospective buyers or partners.

Business Graph
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The good news is that profits take care of themselves as your core group of associates strengthens. As people come together, a community forms.

One of the best ways to build that community is to help those involved to become better at what they do. To become better at what they do, they must first become better at who they are.

To help them accomplish this, a personal development element must be part of your system. In some ways, it will be the most vital component.

Personal development can be blended into your blog or set up separately. Either way it must include at these these elements:

• A set structure. Everyone in the group must be able to understand exactly what they should do to grow.

• A mastermind method. Those in the community must be able to share ideas and what they’re learning.

• A common focus. Everyone should be working together as they each seek to better themselves.

• A way to interact. This might be an Internet forum of some sort but will likely work best if it’s a conference call that allows more personal contact.

Once people start communicating with each other in this way, strong bonds start forming. This makes the difference in being part of just another group and connecting with a life-changing experience.

When people are transformed in such a fashion, they are committed for good.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Artistry in motion

NOTE — This is the ninth post in a series on social network marketing. All the posts in the series can be found here.

Social network marketing is as much an art as a science. Making it work involves learning how to present your opportunity without coming on in a way that will turn off wary readers.

These days, nearly everyone on the Internet — from the solitary blogger to the big corporation — is seeking ways to “monetize” a web site or blog. They’re all finding out that it’s not an easy task.

Making Money by Photos8.com
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The best method of converting readers to customers and potential business partners can be seen in a concept advocated by Lisa Sasevich, who teaches a method called “the invisible close.” Sasevich promotes tele-seminar marketing, but some of her principles clearly apply to social network marketing.

Sasevich urges business people to have an attitude where they are “committed but not attached.” The marketers should be committed to helping people make a decision that benefits them, but not attached to what decision they make.

In other words the person making presentation realizes that it’s their job to provide valuable information that will help the potential customer, but they can’t ultimately determine whether that potential is realized.

In social network marketing, this applies directly to the posts and interaction on your blog. You have to be committed to providing information that will help the person get connected to whether or not your product, service or opportunity is a fit for them.

You provide a place where they can find the clarity they need to make the decision that’s best for them. If you provide that place and if they decide to buy from you or become your partner, that relationship will be much stronger and more solid than it would be if you pressured them into making a decision.

Sasevich futher encourages marketers to be “credible but vulnerable” in their presentations. This, she says, lets people know you are an expert but also allows them to like and trust you.

When you write your posts or interact with people who frequent your blog, be confident in your knowledge. Freely share your expertise, but don’t be afraid to let them know about mistakes you made along the way.

In social network marketing, there are few, if any, precise formulas to duplicate. There are, however, principles that, if implemented, will mean almost certain success.

This is the greatest challenge but the greatest opportunity in doing business on the Internet. Instead of imitating those already having success you apply proven concepts to your business and its web presence.

This means that instead of telling someone how to succeed you need to show them what success looks like and openly reveal how it happens.

(NOTE — If you’d like to find out more about Lisa Sasevich, you can go to her web site. I am not affiliated with her organization.)

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Teach what you know, show what you do

NOTE — This is the eighth post in a series on social network marketing. Previous posts can be found here.

When someone joins your business through social network marketing, they’re going to want to use the same method to attract more people. So, you need to be ready to show them exactly how to do it.

In other words, you need to show them a simple system that they can use. Moreover, you need an easy way to teach them how to use it. They need to understand what you do and recognize that they can do it, too.

Network marketing expert trainer Tom “Big Al” Schreiter likes to point out that anyone who gets a new job receives training on what to do. Network marketers need skills to succeed, he says.

That concept is even more important in social network marketing. Your system needs to cut through all the hoopla on the internet. Those who join you need a “step-by-step” guide, a recipe of sorts.

The recipe
Creative Commons License photo credit: Bill HR

A key component of that system has to be a non-confrontational way to meet new people. The easiest way to accomplish this is something that potential prospects can look at without pressure.

One of my mentors told me about an article written by Gary Bencivenga in his “Bencivenga Bullets” newsletter. Bencivenga talks about “The Secret of the Monkey’s Fist” based on a story told by legendary salesman Frank Bettger.

Bettger tells of seeing the huge ropes used to ties ships to docks. Knowing that noone could pull such a rope he watched as a ship docked to see how it was done.

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Turns out a crewman on the ship first throws an iron ball called a “monkey’s fist” to the longshoreman on the pier. A small rope attached to the ball is then pulled over. That rope is attached to the larger rope which is used to secure the ship to the dock.

Just as the big rope was too big to throw at first, marketers cannot immediately convince cold prospects to make a purchase. The process has to be broken down into small steps that make it easy to say, “Yes,” Bencivenga says.

Your social network marketing system should include such a step. One good option is to give away something of value, something that potential prospects can use to make their lives better.

That gift can be a vital part of your relationship-building efforts. It can help your prospects first see how you’re willing to help them, then understand how easy it is to build a business based on such support.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Be who you are

NOTE — This is the seventh in a series on social network marketing. The whole series can be found here.

We know that if you want to be good at social network marketing, you can’t hype your business and try to sell people. But at the same time, you have to have a way for people to know about your product or service. After all it is social network “marketing.”

So, how do you find buyers for your product without selling it?

First, you have to find a non-intrusive, yet easily seen, way for people to find your product or service.

Second, you have to answer truthfully, but without hype, when people ask what you do for a living. And you have to be ready to clearly show them how you make money and how they can, too.

All this is part of what some have taken to calling your “sales funnel.” I don’t care too much for the characterization, but the concept is sound. So instead, I prefer to call it your “interaction funnel.”

Creative Commons License photo credit: Michael | Ruiz

Your blog, of course, is your funnel. What you want is a number of people actively commenting, participating and interacting on your blog. Some of those folks will ultimately find their way to join your opportunity, buy your product or use your service.

This will happen in one of the two ways mentioned above. They will either see the link to your opportunity or they will simply ask you about it.

The link to your product or service should be in the sidebar in your blog. Seldom, if ever, should you mention it in your blog posts.

When people are interested in your blog, they’ll take time to look around. They’ll notice the items in your sidebar and, if they think the items in the links will help them, they’ll click on them.

I prefer simple links to buttons or graphics that look like ads, but try a variety of methods to see what works best for you.

During the course of your conversations, there will occasionally be opportunities for you to discuss your opportunities. For example, someone might simply ask what you do for a living. When they do, you can give them a quick overview and simply refer them to one of the links in the sidebar or just give them the link yourself.

Some folks will also mention challenges they have. If you have a product or service that might help, you can point them to it. Make sure that you don’t include any hype or pressure. Also, be sure that what you’re offering will help them.

As people make their way down your “interaction funnel,” just be sure they don’t lose their way. A gentle nudge is OK, but don’t push it. Let people move at their own pace.

Eventually, the ones who get to the point of joining your business will know you and you’ll know them. That relationship will form a partnership that will make your businesses stronger and your lives better.

Social network marketing: Get to know those who need to know you

NOTE — This is the sixth in a series on social network marketing. The entire series can be found here.

Since relationships play such an important role in social network marketing, anyone planning to use it successfully must learn how best to interact with people.

Me, Myself and Eye
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The proper interaction will go a long way to helping people get to know, like and trust you. As with any relationship, the initial contact takes on added importance.

Whenever you meet someone on a social network, make sure your first impression is a good one. One way to do that is to know the person to whom you are talking. You can do that by looking at their profile, their blog postings and comments they make.

For example, a few weeks ago, I was responding to folks who are following my Twitter stream. I usually go to their Twitter site, find something interesting and write them a direct message about it. I don’t spend a lot of time on this, because I’d rather interact with people on my blog. But I know that taking this step sets me apart from all those who use automated programs to send a message to people who follow them.

While on one fellow’s site, I noticed a Tweet saying that he was going to a funeral. I sent him a message telling him I was sorry for his loss. I left off the link to my web site that I usually include on similar messages.

A couple of days later he sent me a message thanking me and saying that I was one of only a few who had expressed condolences. Others were just hyping their web sites, he said. Last week, he recommended me to his followers as someone to follow.

To me it was a no-brainer. If I met someone who told me he’d just lost his grandmother, I’d never say something like, “Let me tell you about my business opportunity.” That, in effect, is what happened to this fellow.

You also have to be careful that your efforts to build relationships don’t get so automated that it doesn’t do any good.

For example the other day I got a comment on my blog that said simply “its cool.” Now, I’ve gotten similar comments that were clearly spam, and this one might be. But I clicked on the person’s link. It’s a blog written in Spanish, but it looked legit. So, I approved the comment and replied, thanking the person for the encouragement.

The point is, I nearly rejected it without a second thought. Then I decided that for whatever reason, the person had taken the time to leave a comment, no matter how short, on my blog. That deserved enough of my time to check the link.

Keep in mind that you can’t form relationships with too many people. Most every day I get e-mails touting the wisdom of “building a list” in order to grow my network marketing business. Seems there’s numerous folks who think that having such a list is the ticket to success.

On the surface, there appears to be  wisdom to the strategy. After all, the more people on a list, the lower percentage of people you need to convince to join your team.

In other words if you want 10 new people on your team and have 1,000 on your list, that’s only 1 percent. If you have 100 on your list, you need 10 percent. Easier to get a 1 percent response than a 10 percent response, right?

Not necessarily.

List-building works great if all you need is a one-time customer. If a sale is what you want, the list-building strategy is a grand idea.

But network marketers need more than one-time customers. They’re seeking business partners.

The list-building strategy is a variation of the old “get a lot of no’s so you can get one yes” tactic. The main problem: it doesn’t work.

Network marketing is a relationship business. People join people they know, like and trust. If you have thousands of people on a list, there’s no way you can ever let them get to know you, but less like or trust you.

The relationship aspect of the business is the reason some trainers teach network marketers to make a list of their friends and family members. The thinking was that people who already know, like and trust you will be more likely to go into business with you.

Unfortunately, the profession was not up to the challenge. Presentations made the business sound much too easy. Broken promises of quick money led to hurt feelings.

Veteran network marketers soon came up with an acronym for their predicament — NFL, which stands for No Friends Left.

So, you can’t form close enough relationships with a lot of people in order for them to become business partners. And turning existing friends into business partners doesn’t work either.

What you need is a way to find potential business partners who will become your friends. You do that by genuinely interactioning with them. For that a list of dozens works better than a list of thousands.

Social network marketing: Show you care at every opportunity

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NOTE — This is the fifth in a series on social network marketing. Earlier posts gave an overview and focused on how to relate to people, figuring out why you’re in business, and how to help people.

If I could give people using social network marketing just two words of advice, they’d be, “Don’t sell.”

The reason for this is simple: 90 percent of people don’t like it when someone tries to sell them something. Everyone has a “salesman” detector of sorts. When they sense that they’re being sold, they put up a nearly impenetrable wall.

In social network marketing, the reaction is even more pronounced. Sales tactics will get you blocked on Twitter, banned on Facebook and ignored on blogs.

So, if you can’t sell, what do you do? You care for people. Show your concern. Participate in conversations. Be honest. Let people know you and your business.

One way to understand this is to think of what one of my mentors calls the four boxes of marketing.

The first box is where they don’t know your or your product. This is known as the “box of death.” It’s all but impossible to make a sale from this position.

In the second box, they know your product, but don’t know you.

The third box is where they know you, but don’t know your product.

In the fourth box, your prospects know you and they know your product or service.
Think of it like a baseball game. When a prospect doesn’t know you or your product, it’s like you’re standing in the batter’s box. The only way to score is to hit a home run.
Babe Ruth
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Babe Ruth, one of the greatest home run hitters of all time, had 11.76 at bats per home run. In other words he hit a home run about every 12 times he came to bat.

Many networkers in social network marketing try to hit a home run the minute they meet someone. Many swing for the fences without even taking the time to know anything about the other person.

When the person knows your product or service but doesn’t know you, think of yourself on first base. Someone on first base is still a long way from home, but they could still score on a home run, a triple or perhaps even a double. This is better than being in the batter’s box, but still not a great situation.

In network marketing, this is rare, because most MLM products are not well-known in the marketplace. It’s even worse if you think of the business opportunity as the service offered by network marketing.

The network marketing profession has developed a poor reputation due to many aggressive, pushy distributors who hassle their friends and family. It’s like trying to get a hit when you’re sitting in the dugout.

If the person knows you but not your product, that’s similar to being on second base. Many runners on second will score with a solid base hit. A double or better is sure to score them.

In social network marketing, it takes time for people to get to know you. You have to show a genuine interest in them and their lives. If you’re blog is done well, they’ll learn more about you with every visit.

When the prospect knows you and your product, it’s like being on third base. You’re almost home. There’s multiple ways to score from third. You’re sure to score on a single or better. You could score on a walk if the bases are loaded. Scoring on a passed ball or wild pitch is possible. A fly ball deep to the outfield will score you if there’s less than two outs. You might even score on a well-placed bunt.

When people know you and your product or service, they’re much more likely to join your business.

The best situation is to find people who understand network marketing and are committed to it. This is like starting out with a stand-up double. When they get to know you, they’ll join you if they’re looking for an opportunity.

If you care for people and allow they to get to know, like and trust you, MLM will stand for Major League Marketer.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Help, not just anybody, everybody

NOTE — This is the fourth in a series on social network marketing. Previous posts gave an overview and focused on relationships and on understanding why you’re in business.

If you want to be successful in social network marketing, you have to find a way to form strong bonds with your business partners. One of the best ways to make those connections is to help them reach their dreams.
Depth.
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Remember, people tend to go into business with people they know, like and trust. The best way to do that is to get to know, like and trust other people.

This means you’ll get burned every once in a while, but the payoff is well worth the risk.

Think of your best friends. They are your friends because you know you can count on them if you need their help, and they know they can count on you. In short, they care about you, and you care about them.

Think back to the best teachers you had. Chances are they are the ones who took the time to help you understand the concepts they were trying to teach you. In short, they cared enough to make sure you got it.

If you want to be successful, you have to care about other people. It can’t be just a casual, “Can I help?” It has to be “from the heart” concern.

Express that concern during conversation on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites. But make sure that the discussion is always a two-way street.

For example, the other day, I sent out a tweet on Twitter that I had picked up a virus while at my daughter’s softball tournament over the weekend. I mentioned that I had a stomachache and a fever.

A short while later, I got a reply from someone that I didn’t initially understand. It included a link to software that promised to “scan, repair and speed up” my computer.

After a few seconds, I realized that the person had seen virus in my tweet and thought my computer had a virus.

Perhaps the offer was genuine, but I suspect the person did a search for “virus” on Twitter and sent their offer to all those people. It might sell a few copies of software, but it won’t make too many friends.

And that’s what you have to become — a friend.

Here’s a few ways to get started helping people and finding friends.

Ask. Sometimes it might be as simple as saying something like, “Let me know if can help you in any way.” More likely, however, you’ll have to move beyond that. Ask them about their two biggest struggles in business. When they respond, see if you know something that will help them. If so, point them to it.

• Be sure the person’s problem is solved even if the solution isn’t connected to your business. As a matter of fact, it’s better if it’s not. When you help people without any gain, they see you as someone they can trust.

• Help without an agenda. You must be ready to help people whether or not your business will profit from it. After all, that’s what a friend would do.

Listen. When you ask the right questions, you’ll usually get answers from which you can figure out if the person needs your help. Every once in a while, however, you’ll have to read between the lines a little. If needed, ask follow-up questions.

Pay attention. Look for the people who are looking for you. If you’re perceptive, you’ll notice people who need help. When you sincerely ask who needs help, they’ll raise their hand.

MLM organizations are built on trust. The best way to earn your potential partner’s trust is to always do what’s best for other people. If you want to find success in social network marketing, become known for helping people.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Why we don’t know why we do what we do

NOTE — This is the third in a continuing series on social network marketing. Earlier posts focused on why most people fail and others succeed and on the importance of forming relationships.

Many people who are successful in social network marketing, or in other endeavors for that matter, are in touch with why they are in business. This is, one might say, their highest principle. Most of those at the very top of their craft have also learned how to help others to discover why their in business.

The first issue is not as easy as it may seem. It takes soul-searching, heart-wrenching, tear-causing effort.

Zen Morning
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The second issue is equally hard, because no one likes soul-searching, heart-wrenching, tear-causing effort.

Truth is, the angst and the anguish are worth it. Times 10. Or more.

Moreover, understand that deep down people want, even need, to know the reason they exist. That’s why Rick Warren sold millions of copies of “The Purpose Driven Life.”

Getting to the core of your existence is vital to living life to its fullest. When you understand yourself on that level, it’s a freeing experience. The feeling defies description.

One of my mentors recently forwarded me an e-mail that he had received from someone who had discovered the answer to his “why?” The note really got to me. It revealed the person in a significant way. It was if he had given the reader a glimpse inside the depths of his soul.

The person talked about how he felt as a child that he was destined for greatness but somehow fell into the trap of merely existing, of not living with joy and wonder. Now, as an adult, he sees “mundane life” taking hold of his children.

The writer says he knows that before he can expect his kids to change, he must change. When he seizes his life, he will become the positive model for them.

“True success is knowing that you’re living. Knowing that you short time here on earth was not just waiting to die,” he says. “Life is meant to be experienced, soaked up, shared.”

This is someone who has looked into his soul and, instead of a reflective abyss, found hope. That is the linchpin on which the journey to such discovery relies.

Someone who has found his or her reason for living will overcome any obstacle. Nothing can stop a person with a purpose.

Here’s some questions that will help you get started in finding out why your in business.

• What do you love to do? Think about those things that stir your passion, that get your motor running.

• When you have free time, what do you? And if you say, “Watch television,” I’d suggest turning the thing off for a week and doing something that feeds your soul, then answer the question again.

• If you had all the money you ever needed, what would you do? Yeah, I know we’d all live on a beach in the Bahamas or the like, but that would get old after a month or two. What would you do then?

• What are you searching for in life? Outside of money, what is your driving desire?

• What did you once dream about? Think back to your childhood and remember those long lost desires that once kept you up at night. It’s not too late to rekindle those embers.

• What do you want the person doing the eulogy at your funeral to say? I know it might sound morbid, but by thinking about it now, you can decide what that person will say then.

By looking back and facing forward, you can find out why you exist, why you want to be in business. You can discover your “why.”

After you’ve found what gives your life purpose, pass on what you know. Tell other people about the journey and how it gave your life meaning.

You’ll change your life by changing other lives.

Steve DeVane

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