If you are going to engage in conversation marketing techniques, you are going to have to learn how to keep talking. Regular communication from you is essential. Customers and prospects aren’t very likely to strike up conversations with you out of the blue, so you have to put something out there that they can latch on to.
As far as frequency, you want to sit somewhere between chatterbox and mime. Put enough out there so that you are consistently a presence, but don’t overwhelm people either.
What is Talking
Lets talk about talking. What is it? Talking is any communication that goes out, but specifically it is communication that is targeted toward your regulars. This may be in the form of an email newsletter, or it may be your Twitter feed. Talking isn’t pushing ads. Its providing information and tid-bits that your listeners will find interesting or entertaining.
If you only communicate on a sporadic basis, you won’t have a lot of listeners. You need to get into a rhythm with your communication. You will get the best response when you are regularly communicating, so keep talking.
Email Like You’re Friends
Mike Michalowicz, author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, has a great piece of advice when it comes to how often to email. He says that he thinks of his emails as communications with friends. He did a test to see how often he emails his best friends, and also what kind of voice he uses. Turns out, it was about 1 to 2 times per week. So that’s what he does for his newsletter.
Think about it for a moment. Many small business owners are afraid of sending too many emails. They think once a month is probably appropriate. Who do you email only once a month? Not people you are close with, that you care about and love to communicate with. You wait a long time in between emails for people you don’t have a great relationship with, or those you feel obligated to stay in some contact with (ie. relatives). Is this the kind of relationship you are going for with your customers?
If you want to engage in customer conversations, you need to be more frequent. Remember, a conversation is two way communication that leads to you solving a problem or them buying a product. Good, ongoing conversation also leads to more sales and a growing network of future-customers.
Gauge Your Frequency
So, when it comes to email, forgo the long, multi-article monthly newsletter for a quick weekly note, like you would send to a friend. Gear your other frequencies to the medium. For instance, its a good idea to blog once a day. That’s not overkill. Superstar bloggers like Seth Godin and Chris Brogan even blog more than once a day. For an interesting conversation on blogging frequency, check out this post and then this one by Jim Connolly. Twitter can be updated frequently throughout the day.
What about phone calls? I believe that you should build phone calls in to your conversation marketing. One on one phone calls don’t allow you to communicate with a group, but they give you a quality of conversation like nothing else. Schedule in calls to your customers. Frequency depends on what you are selling. Here’s my best advice. Call at least one more time than you need to. If you need to make one phone call a year to book a sale, then start making two. The second call is not a sales call. Its a conversation about the customer’s needs, about how well you are helping with those needs, and just about catching up and saying hello.
Break Through the Barriers
If you keep talking, you will find that the barriers that keep you stiff and stand-offish with customers will start to fade. You will also notice a consistent buzz of conversation and sales that are happening around your efforts. And once you get comfortable increasing your frequency, you will find yourself becoming a part of your customer’s life, which is a very good thing.
If, on the other hand, you choose to only speak up occasionally, you will have to break through the wall of trust over and over again. Your message will be missed. You will be seen as an opportunist looking for a sale. You’ll be providing info only when its convenient for you, when you want a sale. It doesn’t matter if these are your intentions or not. This is what it will look like. So, your best intentions of not being a bother to your customers could actually backfire.
Keep talking on a regular basis. Provide useful information. Don’t dump too much stuff at once. A few paragraphs per email should do it. 500-800 words in a blog post is just fine. 120 characters on a Tweet is perfect (leaving room for a retweet). And in all of your communication, make it easy for your listeners to talk back. Always be prepared to listen.
Bradford Shimp helps small businesses figure out their communication frequency and approach at BroadRiverCreative.com