Another point that must be made amid all this talk of online marketing is that your online efforts must be a reflection of your offline efforts.
For most companies, your offline model and strategies should dictate your online strategies. Building an online hub supplements and enhances your offline efforts, but cannot replace them.
It eliminates barriers to communicating with your base and giving them materials to communicate with outsiders. It can cut costs in your marketing budget. You can spread word faster.
For example, our client REIC offers free seminars to teach people their real estate system. They also provide a recording of their seminar online for website visitors to view.
Obviously, their results are much greater with their live sessions versus the online recording.
Another company we worked with, TJEd Marketplace, provides resources and support to homeschooling families.
Their most successful and profitable initiative—the core model that everything else revolves around—is an annual forum where families attend from all over the country.
They typically draw about 1,000 people to the multi-day event packed with relevant materials and speakers. They ran this highly-successful event for seven years before they ever had a website.
Among other things we helped them architect their website. We taught them how to blog and build and manage a database.
All of these online efforts have made their offline event run more smoothly, but they can never replace the actual event.
They are set up by a sponsor, who hosts them at her home. 6-20 women are invited and Beverly cuts all of their hair for free, while telling them about her hair products.
Not only does she cut their hair, but she gives each a consultation on how their hair style can complement their face shape, etc.
Karina spent $30 on products after getting her hair cut for “free.”
Examine all of the Hub Mentality elements involved in her process.
She gets permission to market, she works in an environment of trust and authenticity, she provides free “content” (hair cuts), her giveaway is built around a coherent strategy, she executes flawlessly, there’s a gradient approach, and she customizes her presentations.
It’s a brilliant approach, especially for women. The free hair cuts make the whole thing work.
Of course, it could be even more effective if she added online elements to the strategy. For example, she could collect names and email addresses of everyone who attends her parties, then use email marketing to keep them in the hub.
Again, the point is that Hub Mentality is a holistic mindset that applies to both your online and your offline marketing efforts. T
his is also a great opportunity to stress that you shouldn’t be afraid of giving away content for free. So many people have a hard time with this concept because they think that they’ll lose sales with giveaways. But when done properly, this actually boosts your sales.
For example, science fiction author Cory Doctorow has been giving away free e-book versions of his books for years. He explains:
Most people who download the book don’t end up buying it, but they wouldn’t have bought it in any event, so I haven’t lost any sales, I’ve just won an audience. A tiny minority of downloaders treat the free e-book as a substitute for the printed book — those are the lost sales. But a much larger minority treat the e-book as an enticement to buy the printed book. They’re gained sales. As long as gained sales outnumber lost sales, I’m ahead of the game. After all, distributing nearly a million copies of my book has cost me nothing.”
Two lessons: 1) Hub Mentality must permeate your entire business culture, both online and offline, and 2) don’t be afraid of giveaways.
Free content is especially critical in economic downturns. Just make sure that it supports a core strategy, as exemplified by Beverly D.
These ten elements together represent the New Gold. In fact, they comprise a formula for alchemy—they transform information into gold when wisely managed.
Make a hard sell and you’ve sold a customer one time. Give them free content and get them in your permission-based database and they’ll buy from you over and over again.
But, of course, this only works when you cultivate your database like an astute farmer, rather than attacking it like a blood-thirsty hunter. You can’t ever manipulate or push; you must always pull with authenticity.
The transactional mentality has been tarnished and overused. Consumers discarded it long ago. Hub Mentality is a treasure chest gleaming with gold and dripping with jewels.
Marketing and sales “hunting” has been killed; “farming” has been revived. Transactional business is out; relational business is in.
The only question is, will you make the shift?